M.A. (Master of Arts)
Department of English
This thesis explores how fatherhood guides cinematic narratives of aging masculinity through a star study of the late-stage career of Harrison Ford. It bridges fundamental cultural studies of masculinity, such as those by Raewyn Connell and Michael Kimmel, with film studies to provide key insights into cultural narratives of maleness related to vulnerability, heroism, and most significantly, fatherhood. By focusing on Ford’s late-career reprisal of his iconic characters, I explore how the development of his image provides a postmillennial recontextualization of twentieth century masculine iconography. This study covers three cinematic texts: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015), and Blade Runner 2049 (2017). The Crystal Skull chapter addresses how an aging Indiana Jones both succeeds and fails at adapting to the film’s nostalgic 1950s American society, using masculinity studies from the 1950s, 1980s, and 2000s as context for Jones’s transition into a father and seeming embrace of the nuclear family concept. The analysis of Force Awakens explores the failure of Ford’s older Han Solo to embrace the nuclear family, through the corruption of his son to the Dark Side. Solo’s sacrifice illustrates his acceptance of his failures as a father and aging man, examining a darker question of male legacy. Finally, the discussion of Blade Runner reconciles the former two films’ ultimate failure to successfully adapt Ford’s iconic characters into the father role by giving Rick Deckard a true chance at redemption through his reunion with his long-lost daughter, essentially challenging the gender ideologies of the other two films, which focus on the theme of male heirs. In total, by providing an expanded gender context for Ford’s recent films, my study examines how these productions address aging stardom through the theme of postmillennial fatherhood.
Freiberger, Bahnt G., "The Mileage of the Weary Father: Harrison Ford as Aging Screen Action Icon" (2019). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 7045.
Northern Illinois University
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