Lawrence Kasdan The Accidental Tourist (1988)

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Lawrence Kasdan

The Accidental Tourist (1988)

  • William Hurt (Macon Leary)

  • Kathleen Turner (Sarah Leary)

  • Geena Davis (Muriel Pritchett)

Macon Leary

Sarah Leary

Muriel Pritchett

Melodrama (Lopez)

  • Sides are clearly divided and defined.

  • Heroes and villains are clearly divided and defined.

  • The struggle between good and evil ends with the victory of good.

  • Human psychology and motivation are presented in a simple way.

  • Plots are often artificial and perhaps even clearly impossible.

  • The purpose of the film is to arouse an emotional response.

AT as Melodrama

  • How does the film differ from other melodramas you have seen?

  • How might the film age?

  • For instance, what elements of The Accidental Tourist might become ridiculous in the future?

  • What seems implausible in The Accidental Tourist?

Opening Segment

  • The credits are run with a voice over and scenes of a man packing.

  • How does this segment function as a metaphor?

  • What different (metaphorical) directions does it take?

  • Note how it is juxtaposed with humor.

  • segment: 0.40-2.40/2.40-4.30

Macon and Sarah

  • How do Hurt’s and Turner’s characters differ?

  • How is the idea of travel employed as escape, and again, as metaphor for the divisions between characters (or more generally, people)?

  • segment: 4.30-8.30

“Travel” Segments

  • London segment: 14.50-16.40 What do we learn from this?

  • Origins: 30.30-31.10

  • The unexpected: 40.10-40.40

  • Baggage: 1:13.20-1:14.15

Muriel’s Role

  • What does Muriel’s role represent? Why is she interested in an asshole like Macon?

  • segment: 54.10-1:00

Challenges to Roles?

  • In some respects stereotypes seem to be reversed—for instance, women are more assertive in some ways:

  • Turner demands a divorce and Davis pursues Hurt, and Hurt’s character is emotional and dependent.

Conventional Roles

  • A lot of conventional gender roles are shown:

  • Davis’ “mothering” of Hurt, the situation in Hurt’s family between his brothers and sister, Julian’s courtship of Rose.

  • Are the traditional roles being criticized or satirized?

  • segment: 1:50.45-1:54.00

Comic Elements

  • Why does Kasdan put comic elements in?

  • How do they function in the overall development of the film?

  • segment: 30.10-, 41,50-


  • The dog, Edward, is an important though complex character in this film.

  • What symbolic meanings might he bear?

  • What explains his violence? And towards whom?

Overview of Course

  • Firth, travel guides, guiding questions

  • Venice: Goethe, Dickens, James

  • South America: Darwin, Guevara

  • Emic/Etic: Geertz, Harris

  • Africa: Kinglake, Haggard

  • China: Maugham, Hilton

  • Fantasy/Imagination: Wells, Kasdan

Travel Problem

  • We are now in a position to revisit the questions that we began with to see whether new answers have appeared.

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