CAHSS Faculty Articles

Title

"These Two Pretty Children / Flew Away": Myth and Migration in the Night of the Hunter

Department

Department of Literature and Modern Languages

Publication Date

12-2015

Publication Title

South Atlantic Review

ISSN

0277-335X

Volume

80

Issue/No.

1-2

First Page

82

Last Page

95

Abstract

Charles Laughton is said to have described his 1955 directorial debut, The Night of the Hunter, which was to have the only films he ever directed, as "a nightmarish sort of Mother Goose tale." The narrative of this atmospheric and under-appreciated film focuses on the flight of two children from a corrupt preacher stepfather, evoking mythological and fairy tale tropes of quest, trial and heroism. The result is an evocative piece of filmmaking that haunted its makers, defied its critics, and emerged as a southern gothic film noir masterpiece. The most memorable sequences draw sharp attention to the movement of John and Pearl Harper as they proceed on their poignant journey. Exiled from home and family, and indeed any safe refuge, Joh and pearl flee in an expedition rife with archetypal overtones that mesh with Laughton's eerie visual conceptions.

Peer Reviewed

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