Cover for DENVIR: Legal Reelism: Movies as Legal Texts

Legal Reelism

Movies as Legal Texts

What can be learned when "Justice" stars in Hollywood?

Law and and justice are important themes in film, not only in courtroom dramas, but also in the western, the film noir, even the documentary. In the Godfather trilogy Francis Ford Coppola shows that the Mafia possesses its own strict codes, even though they are in conflict with those of the criminal justice system. In Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors the protagonist also "gets away with murder," but with a different dramatic intent by the director and a different effect on the audience.

Shedding light on myriad facets of the law/film relationship, fourteen contributors to Legal Reelism analyze films ranging from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, It's a Wonderful Life, and Drums Along the Mohawk to Do the Right Thing, Basic Instinct, The Thin Blue Line, and Thelma and Louise. The first volume to contain work by both humanists and legal specialists, Legal Reelism is a landmark text for those concerned with depictions of justice in the media and the impact of those depictions on society at large.


John Denvir is a professor of law at the University of San Francisco School of Law and was editor of a special issue of Legal Studies Forum dealing with law and film.

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