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FilmTalk: Prof Sue Harper on "The Lion's Mane: Sexual and Racial Politics in Samson and Delilah"

In this season we examine ‘forbidden relationships’ across the Middle East divide, especially between Jews and Arabs. Spanning the period from the 1940s to the present day, the films explore the changing representations of Arab masculinities and Jewish women, including where these representations stand in present day Britain. In these films love, desire and politics blur the borderline between personal loyalty and the perceived demands of patriotism and national identity. FilmTalk stresses film as much as talk. The lectures are 20-25 minutes long and are followed or intercut with excerpts from the films under review.

Samson and Delilah presents us with fascinating contradictions. It is a film made at the height of the Hollywood studio system, which celebrates the heroic underdog and racial minorities: it both reviles and celebrates the female body: and it combines a lush visual texture with a stern moralism. Besides trying to reconcile these contradictions, Sue Harper will analyse the symbolism of hair (not just Samson’s) and will examine the function of Edith Head’s costume designs, particularly the peacock cloak. She will assess the input of the Zionist thinker Vladimir Jabotinsky to the film’s script, and will compare the film’s treatment of Jewish/Arab relation with others in the same period.

Sue Harper is Emeritus Professor of Film History at the University of Portsmouth. She has written numerous books and articles on British cinema, and has made many radio and television appearances.


Professor Sue Harper | talks | www


Date and Time:

8 December 2011 at 6:30 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide
29 Russell Square
020 7636 7247
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Organised by:

Leo Baeck Institute
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Available from:

Admission is free but places must be reserved in advance by contacting the Wiener Library (email info@wienerlibrary.co.uk or phone 020 7636 7247).

Additional Information:

A lecture series organized by the Leo Baeck Institute and the Wiener Library.

FilmTalk lectures are held at The Wiener Library, 29 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DP and begin at 6.30pm.

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