Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Embodied VisionsEvolution, Emotion, Culture and Film$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Torben Grodal

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195371314

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195371314.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 26 November 2020

Sadness, Melodrama, and Rituals of Loss and Death

Sadness, Melodrama, and Rituals of Loss and Death

(p.122) 6 Sadness, Melodrama, and Rituals of Loss and Death
Embodied Visions

Torben Grodal

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes why tragic films are successful and prestigious although they evoke sadness and grief, whereas fitness-enhancing activities in general evoke pleasure. First, it focus on general brain mechanisms by which superior goals temporarily modify reactions of unpleasure to support coping in the service of goals, as in action and adventure films. Second, it argues that such general mechanisms cannot explain films with negative endings. It argues that viewer preferences for such stories may be explained as adaptations created during the evolutionary process. Third, it argues that there are two adaptive mechanisms at play: a general mechanism that makes negative events fascinating to support information about negative events (enhancing learning), and a cluster of more specific adaptations that support bonding—pair-bonding, male bonding, and tribal bonding—based on rituals of mourning. Rituals of mourning are often linked to scenes that elicit awe and submission to some higher power (fate or divine forces); the chapter discusses the biological-evolutionary underpinnings of such emotions and behaviors and analyzes Saving Private Ryan, The Last of the Mohicans, Hero, Pan’s Labyrinth, and others, in this light.

Keywords:   film melodrama, rituals of mourning, tragedy, bonding, tribalism, negative emotions, coping and dopamine, evolution

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .