The joys and trouble of having a double in the 21st Century…
Heather Duerre Humann tells us about twins, clones and lookalikes in some contemporary films, TV and books.
Famous Film Doppelgängers, Fandor
Lookalikes, clones, twins, duplicates and doubles have been seen in many popular films, TV and books over the years. I’ve enjoyed watching these themes on-screen since my 1970s and 80s childhood. I remember avidly watching that cult episode where Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) fought the evil Garthe in Knight Rider (1982-86). I was also glued to the box when Krystal Carrington was kidnapped and then replaced her redhead lookalike, Rita. This evil plan was one from a George Hamilton character in the original Dynasty (1981-89) TV Series.
More recently. one of my favourite costume dramas has both nice and nasty doppelganger roles. Both were played by the Welsh actor, Matthew Rhys in his dual roles in the Daphne Du Maurier TV Movie adaptation of The Scapegoat (2012). In this (TV) movie he played a good man and his evil look-alike and (probably) like many of you who watched it, I rooted for his more lovely character to win the day and the girl.
Just on reading the title of this McFarland publication it immediately got my interest, and I was superkeen to read this entertainment-themed book. This enigmatic titled book was Another Me: The Doppelganger in 21st Century Fiction, Television and Film and was written by Heather Duerre Humann. So I was keen to read Duerre Humann’s more in-depth look at this subject.
Duerre Humann’s sterling introduction describes many of the themes of this book from the first sentence. This was read in the first paragraph where she aptly referenced many current pop music songs – which admittedly the sixties and seventies loving me hadn’t heard of but my Darlin Husband had – and she illustrated this point using Usher’s song More where he is;
“expressing duel feelings of fear and fascination with the self”
Duerre Humann contests that these are recurrent themes not just used by lyricists but also discovered in other pop culture sources such as present-day books, films and television. These are found in their references to identity issues and in their references to doppelgangers of all sorts. She believes that people today also have many identities on the internet and social media.
She argues the interest in the double is “both a timely and enduring image”. In explaining this concept, I read that this theme has always been one of fascination for us as humans and that our past and present beliefs of its interpretation and meaning have changed over the years and centuries.
Duerre Humann adds this subject has been seen in many social and cultural manifestations since its first recorded mentions in Egyptian and Norse mythology. Duerre Humann then delves into the literature-based history – citing Shelley and Shakespeare – and takes us to current thoughts and ethical dilemmas about this topic as expressed in current books, films and TV.
This is illustrated with a full exploration of the ideas and themes seen from a wide variety of literature and from the many diverse cultural beliefs around this subject. She relates to the present day of the 21st century and writes about those doubles from today and from sci-fi including clones, those in parallel universes and duplicates. She supports her writing citing famous studies and authors who have written on this subject.
Duerre Humann examines these subjects in more depth relating to an extensive bibliography. In this, she compares and contrasts the pertinent points of these sources in a comprehensive manner. These themes and tropes are discussed in a concise and understandable way. In the past, this topic was often brought up in literature relating to fears surrounding death. Nowadays many write and tell of the ethical dilemmas and more recent trends surrounding cloning and the anxieties surrounding this controversial subject. She also writes how the human rights of clones are explored in film, television and books.
She then examines these themes and subjects in more depth. This with a first section analysing six books illustrating this subject and this then followed by an examination of nine films and TV in a separate section. This makes the book accessible for your film loving sister or TV binge watching mother. Or your husband who likes an interesting sci-fi book.
These all have titles that pull you in to read more, even if you haven’t read or seen the subject. In section 1, chapters in literature explored include The Pursuit of self? José Saramago’s The Double and The Ethics of Cloning in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Section 2 explores films and television, and these chapters include those titled Westworld, the 21st Century Technoculture take on Doubles and Monstrous Doubling and Magical Illusion in The Prestige.
In both sections, through her detailed descriptions, Duerre Humann sets the scene for these by firstly writing about the author of book, film or TV Series. She then explores the material itself then skillfully illustrates the theme of the double within this material. Be it as a clone, twin, doppelganger from a parallel universe – Duerre Humann discusses the plotlines for these various doubles with pertinent examples from her source.
These are all written about at length with separate chapters for each source and these include subchapters discussing their themes and ideas. Duerre Humann used credible sources about this subject to back up her arguments using reviews, books and literature to support her beliefs.
These topics were all written about vividly, with a few spoilers included, so be aware that the book then changes its identity from not just a discussion guide to more a companion to guide you through these pop culture references. These two sections are followed by Duerre Humann’s conclusion and her exhaustive list of the literature – including books and articles – and other references she used in writing this book.
As I read these compelling descriptions of the many uses of the double in current film, books and TV, I found many themes and ideas still “enduring” as many are similar in nature to those found in the past. I’ve discovered some great present telly, films and books to explore and enjoy on this enigmatic theme. I will be reading or watching these sources, then reread this author’s thoughts from this well written and credible source.
Finally, just to duplicate what I have written before, I believe this book in a dual way, as one that examines this subject from every angle and believe it a captivating read in its entirety or I’d recommend it ust to dip in and out of to read those relevant chapters. Duerre Humann regales about this subject in all its reincarnations (pun intended).
Through this well-researched book, my never-ending love of this topic from my childhood days continues. It has.. and to quote the title of Kazuo Ishiguro’s book, Never Let Me Go. So tune in soon for a couple of reviews. This after I watch the film version of this aforementioned book, followed by two Ewan McGregor characters in The Island (2005) for a double bill with a clone narrative.
A disclaimer and personal thank you to McFarland Books for giving me a copy of Another Me: The Doppelganger in 21st Century Fiction, Television and Film by Heather Duerre Humann. Financial compensation was not received, however, I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own. If you would like your book to be featured or promoted here, please drop a line to me via my Contact Me Page.