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Kiwi Gothic

December 18, 2011

Apparently so… Lisa Hopkins refers to the ‘Kiwi Gothic’ in her discussion of Peter Jackson’s work. She writes: “Both Haggard and Buchan [in Witch Wood, etc.] insistently connote Africa, consequently bringing with them strong echoes of the theories of fixed racial identities to which post-Darwinian scientific racism had given rise.  New Zealand has no such clearly packaged set of meanings, though it is increasingly famous as the home of ‘Kiwi Gothic,’ a genre to which Jackson’s earlier work could well be said to belong (certainly his first film Bad Taste and his 1996 ‘mockumentary’ Forgotten Silver both seem to be distinctively about New Zealand, as does Heavenly Creatures). A staple of ‘Kiwi Gothic’ is violence within the family (Heavenly Creatures features matricide), and to the extent that New Zealand was a popular destination for emigrants, it could also be seen as representing the possibility for breaking away from existing families and from ancestral ties. If Africa speaks of long-distant origins, then, New Zealand might well be thought to speak of both more recent and even present family structures.  

The Fellowship of the Ring is certainly riddled with questions about the roles of individuals both inside and outside the family. Above all, there are the characteristically Gothic motifs of uncertain identity and uncanny doubling….” (144)

Ref: (all bold, green emphases mine) Lisa Hopkins (2005) Screening the Gothic. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

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