Germanic Myths

Myth and Audiovisual Creation

15-17 October 2018

Rectorado de la Universidad de Alcalá

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The research group RECEPTION is pleased to announce the celebration of its fifth international conference, which is devoted to the study of the reception of Germanic mythology in audiovisual media. In this occasion, the conference “Myth and Audiovisual Creation: Germanic Myths” is one of the four branches of the 5th international conference on myth criticism, which will be held in UAH, UAM, UFV and UCM from 15th to 26th of October, 2018.

Throughout the conference, it will be analyzed the growing presence of Germanic myths in the creative languages that fuse image and sound, with a special focus on films, TV series, comic and video games. Their reception in opera or theatre will also be discussed, as well as their impact on contemporary art, which merges image and sound as in happenings, installations or performances.

Siegfried bathes in the blood of the dragon in Fritz Lang’s Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (1924)

With the term Germanic mythology, we refer to mythic narratives as used by the ancient Germanic peoples of Northern Europe before Christianity. This includes Anglo-Saxon mythology, German mythology, and Nordic or Scandinavian mythology.

There are endless examples that illustrate the reception of medieval written sources in contemporary audiovisual culture. The 13th-century medieval epic poem The Song of the Nibelungs, written in Middle High German, appears in one of the first silent films of the 20th century Die Nibelungen (1924), directed by Fritz Lang.

As of that moment, the mythic narrative merges with other sources such as the Scandinavian medieval Eddas. From then on, we can follow its growth and the interest generated in films such as Harald Reinl’s Die Nibelungen! (1967), or Uli Edel’s Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King (2004); as well as in video games such as Ring (1999), based on Richard Wagner’s interpretation of Nordic myths at the end of the 19th century with his opera tetralogy Der Ring der Nibelungen, which has been reinterpreted and staged in the 21th century by innovative artists such as the group La Fura Dels Baus (2009).

Der Ring des Nibelungen (Richard Wagner) in the La Fura dels Baus’s production (2007)

Less related to the aforementioned epic poem and more with the Nordic mythology included in medieval Scandinavian texts such as the Eddas, the Völuspá or the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, we find at the cinema and in TV series a large number of audiovisual products based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel from 1954 The Lord of the Rings. Among these Peter Jackson’s well-known film series of the same name stands out, as well as the countless video games born out of it (The Elder Scrolls, 1994-2013, etc.), or TV series with a strong social impact such as Benioff and Weiss’ Game of Thrones (2011-2017).

During the conference a special attention will be paid to Germanic myths related to nature: animals and plants (the dragons Nidhogg or Fafnir, the tree Yggdrasil, the wolves Fenrir or Sköll, the serpent Jörmungandr, Odin’s ravens or the squirrel Ratatösk); gods related to the earth or with natural phenomena (Thor, Dagr, Nótt, Sol); beings that represent the earth or that live beneath it (Erda, Norns, Nibelungs); or places associated with cosmology (Asgard, Heimdall, Niflheim, Muspelheim, Helheim, Alfheim, Svartálfaheim, Midgard).

Vikings (Michael Hirst, 2013 —)

Game of Thrones (Benioff/Weiss, 2011—)

The importance of translation as an essential mediator in the reception of Germanic mythology in the audiovisual media through new technologies will also be discussed, especially with regard to audiovisual translation: film dubbing and subtitling, and video game localization.

Finally, during the event, the importance of the narrative and expressive function of music in the audiovisual media will also be analyzed, not only that of the film and TV soundtrack but also, and above all, that of video games, where important creative and compositional breakthroughs are currently taking place.

Therefore, proposals addressing the issues mentioned above are welcomed. In particular, submissions should engage with the following topics:

  • The trace of Germanic mythology in contemporary scenic arts: opera, theatre, happening, and performance.
  • The reception of Germanic mythology in films, television, and video games.
  • Ecocritical studies about the role of Nature in the present conception and reception of Germanic mythology.
  • Translation as mediation in the reception of audiovisual services: dubbing, subtitling, and localization.
  • The significance of images in the (new) reception of Germanic mythology through comics and graphic novels.
  • The narrative and expressive role of music in the reception of Germanic mythology in audiovisual productions. The relevance of soundtracks in films, television, and video games.

Valkyrie Profile (Playstation/Tri-Ace/Enix, 1999-2006)