The theory is that many medievalist films shy away from representing "real" or "realistic" medieval stained glass when they show interiors of churches. There are a number of possible reasons for this:
- technical: "real" medieval windows can seem very dark
- practical: (a) they might distract from the main action and (b) their scale and point of view is all wrong for the big screen
- respectful: real medieval stained glass shows Biblical imagery that sits uncomfortably, potentially, with the chivalric ethos that dominates much medievalist film
- ideological: (a) real medieval stained glass would risk interpellating the viewer as Christian; and (b) the medieval church is often presented as corrupt and forbidding, not joyful and celebratory
- aesthetic: movies like their churches to appear either austere and cold (Name of the Rose), not full of riotous colour; or lit by candles: e.g. the wedding scene in Camelot
- stylistic: medievalist movies prefer abstract or new age symbolism to Christian symbols (The Magic Sword: Quest for Camelot; Excalibur?)
What I have to do now is watch as many medieval movies as I can in a short time. And it is here, dear readers, that I would welcome your input, whether it seems to confirm my theory or not.
What can you remember about the representation of stained glass, or glass in churches, in medievalist movies?
Srsly, my deadline is very tight; and this is for prospective publication in an on-line format later this year. I wouldn't normally present such half-baked ideas on the blog; and am just going to risk someone thinking this is a good idea for an essay and writing it instead. I reckon I can do this faster than just about anyone, anyway!
I'll be very happy to credit assistance, either by name or pseudonym, as you prefer.