Karen Lury – Children, objects and motion… balloons, bikes, kites and tethered flight

Event Date: 18-19 April 2016

Management Building Auditorium

Royal Holloway University of London
Egham, Surrey
TW20 0EX

The School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Royal Holloway presents:

Childhood and Nation in World Cinema

Borders and Encounters since 1980


Professor Karen Lury (University of Glasgow) – Children, objects and motion… balloons, bikes, kites and tethered flight

Balloons, bikes and kites provide pervasive instances of tethered flight and accelerated motion in films made for and about children. Famously, in The Wizard of Oz Dorothy does not get to return home via the Wizard’s balloon but finds that the answer is on her feet; and in E.T.  Elliott rescues his alien friend in an iconic flight that features his bicycle and the moon; whereas Mr. Banks’ hard won recognition of what it takes be a ‘good father’ is secured by his willingness to fly kites with his children at the end of Mary Poppins. Yet the motif of tethered flight and the significance of the accelerated motion made possible by the bicycle are not restricted to Anglo-American films – films such as The Blue Kite, Gattu, La Ballon Rouge, Likes Stars on Earth, The White Balloon, The Kite Runner, Wadjda, The Kid with a Bike, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Like Father, Like Son, all demonstrate the significance of the forces of ‘lift’, motion and flight within the representation of childhood. I want to use this opportunity within the context of a conference dedicated to the child and nation, to think about lift, motion and tethered flight as peculiarly affective forces in childhood’s imaginative world(s). Balloons, bicycles and kites offer opportunities to explore key themes in childhood relating to an emotional as well as a physical geography: separation anxiety; escape; or possession, desire and the ephemeral aspects of childhood.

Karen Lury is Professor of Film & Television Studies (Theatre, Film and Television Studies) at the University of Glasgow. Karen’s most recent monograph is The Child in Film: Tears, Fears and Fairytales, published in 2010 by I. B. Tauris (and Rutgers University Press) and she is currently editing a new anthology, The Child in Cinema, for BFI/Palgrave due to be published in 2013. Her own research in to questions of the representation of childhood and children on screen is now primarily related to her AHRC funded project ‘Children and Amateur Media in Scotland’ where she is working in collaboration with Dr Ryan Shand and the Scottish Screen Archive.





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