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Jack Baran , Christopher Carlson , Mark Jean , Shirō Sasaki , Cynthia Voigt

Homecoming

YEAR:

COUNTRY: United States of America

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Title of the work

Homecoming

Studio / Production Company

Merko Production, Showtime Networks and Hallmark Entertainment

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

United States od America

Original Language

English

First Edition Details

Homecoming. Directed by Mark Jean. Screenplay by Christopher Carlson and Mark Jean. Based on the book Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt. Showtime, April 14, 1996. 105 min.

Running time

105 min.

Format

Television

Date of the First DVD or VHS

VHS release date: Feb. 16, 1999

Genre

Drama
Made-for-TV movies

Target Audience

Crossover

Cover

Missing cover

We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.


Author of the Entry:

Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, s.deacy@roehampton.ac.uk

Daniel Nkemleke, ENS University of Yaoundé 1, nkemlekedan@yahoo.com

Male portrait

Jack Baran (Producer)

Jack Baran is an assistant director and producer whose credits include Single White Female (1992). He appears in Bobby Roth’s filmmaking masterclass documentary A Director Prepares (2016).



Bio prepared by Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk


Male portrait

Christopher Carlson (Screenwriter)

Christopher Carlson is a screenwriter, playwright and novelist, who grew up in New Hampshire and Connecticut. The script he co-authored with Mark Jean for Homecoming received a 1997 Writers Guild nomination for Best Long Form Adaptation.

Official website (accessed: September 12, 2019).



Bio prepared by Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk


Male portrait

Mark Jean (Director, Screenwriter)

Mark Jean is a director and screenwriter who studied filmmaking at San Diego State University and attained a Master’s degree in directing from the American Film Institute. The script he co-authored with Christopher Carlson for Homecoming received a 1997 Writers Guild nomination for Best Long Form Adaptation. The film was also nominated for a 1997 Young Artist Award in the category Best Family TV Movie or Mini-Series – Cable. 

Official website (accessed: September 12, 2019).



Bio prepared by Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk


Male portrait

Shirō Sasaki , b. 1939
(Producer)

Shirō Sasaki is a film and music producer known for his work on Japanese anime and music. A list of some of his work can be found on the Anime News Network’s encyclopedia (accessed: September 12, 2019).



Bio prepared by Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk


Female portrait

Cynthia Voigt , b. 1942
(Author)

Cynthia Voigt is an American author best known for the Tillerman family novels. She is the author of 33 books for children and young people, and two books for adults, spanning a range of genres and audiences. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Voigt graduated from Smith College in 1963 and later became a secondary school English teacher. Her novels have won numerous awards, including the prestigious Newbery Medal for Dicey’s Song in 1983. The first Tillerman novel, Homecoming, was nominated for a National Book Award in 1982.

Official Website (accessed: 04 September, 2019).



Bio prepared by Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk 


Casting

Anne Bancroft (Abigail). Nominee, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries, Screen Actors Guild Awards 1997; Nominee, Actress in a Movie or Miniseries, CableACE Awards 1996.

Kimberlee Peterson (Dicey). Nominee, Best Performance in a TV Movie/Mini-Series – Young Actress, Young Artist Awards 1997; Nominee, Best Performance in a TV Movie/Home Video – Young Ensemble, Young Artist Awards 1997.

Trever O’Brien (James). Nominee, Best Performance in a TV Movie/Home Video – Young Ensemble, Young Artist Awards 1997.

Hanna Hall (Maybeth). Nominee, Best Performance in a TV Movie/Home Video – Young Ensemble, Young Artist Awards 1997.

William Greenblatt (Sammy). Nominee, Best Performance in a TV Movie/Home Video – Young Ensemble, Young Artist Awards 1997.

Anna Louise Richardson (Liza)

Scott Michael Campbell (Windy)

Bonnie Bedelia (Eunice)

Summary

Based on the novel of the same name, Homecoming tells the story of four siblings – Dicey, James, Maybeth and Sammy Tillerman– who are abandoned by their mother. (Their father had already abandoned the family some years before.) Led by the eldest, Dicey, the children make their way mostly on foot down the east coast of the United States. At their lowest ebb, they meet a student called Windy who drives them to the home of their cousin Eunice. Eunice is willing to take Dicey and Maybeth in but starts to make arrangements for the boys to be fostered elsewhere. Determined to stay together, the children run away from Eunice’s house and take a bus to Crisfield, Maryland, where their reclusive grandmother lives. The children must convince their grandmother, Abigail, that she should let them live with her on her farm, but she refuses the responsibility. The film ends with Abigail taking children to the bus stop to return to Eunice’s house. The bus pulls away to reveal that the children are still with Abigail, who then introduces them as her grandchildren for the first time, to a local storekeeper. On the boat journey back to the farm, Abigail asks Dicey, “Ready to go home?” and Dicey replies, “Ready.”

Analysis

Homecoming is a heartwarming depiction of family bonds and determination. While it is relatively faithful to the novel, with some dialogue reproduced verbatim, the film is more sentimental, perhaps reflecting its more general target audience. For example, the appearance of the children on-screen emphasises their tender years more than in the novel, where they are presented as competent survivors. Frequent close-up shots of Dicey are used to amplify her helplessness, isolation and responsibility for the younger siblings, who are often framed as a group of three in contrast to Dicey. This shifts once Abigail takes on the role of responsible adult, with the children framed as a group of four in the final scenes. Shots of loving parents and children are used throughout the film to provide a contrast with the abandoned Tillermans.

Classical references in this adaptation are less obvious than in its source material. Voigt’s novel has been compared to Homer’s Odyssey, with Dicey filling the role of Odysseus and other characters filling other roles in the story (see Henke 1985, 48-51). In the film, the children reach Abigail’s hometown 35 minutes in, meaning that both the sense of an epic journey and some of the classical allusions have been lost. Those that remain are:

  • Dicey’s encounter with the security guard (Polyphemus)
  • Windy, the student who helps the children find Eunice’s house (Aeolus) 
  • The children’s stay at Eunice’s house (formerly Aunt Cilla’s house and thus interpreted as a stand-in for Scylla), although their stay seems to have been truncated to one night.
  • The circus (Circe in Henke’s analysis) appears in the script but not the finished film. 

The majority of the film’s running time is devoted to the children’s arrival at Abigail’s home and subsequent battle of wills to persuade their grandmother that they should be allowed to live with her. In both the novel and film, these scenes can be interpreted as representing Odysseus’s homecoming and trials to prove himself to Penelope. Rather than focusing on the journey itself, the film’s emphasis is on the difficulties of relationship-building and the right to a safe home.


Further Reading

Carlson, Christopher, “Homecoming,” www.christopherccarlson.com (accessed: September 11, 2019).

Hardstaff, Sarah, “Economies of Childness in Cynthia Voigt’s Homecoming,” Children’s Literature in Education, 50.1 (2019): 47-59.

Henke, James T., “Dicey, Odysseus, and Hansel and Gretel: The Lost Children in Voigt’s Homecoming,” Children’s Literature in Education 16 (1985): 45-52.

“Homecoming.” IMDb (accessed: September 11, 2019).


Addenda

Trailer: christopherccarlson.com (accessed: January 22, 2020).

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Leaf pattern
Leaf pattern

Title of the work

Homecoming

Studio / Production Company

Merko Production, Showtime Networks and Hallmark Entertainment

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

United States od America

Original Language

English

First Edition Details

Homecoming. Directed by Mark Jean. Screenplay by Christopher Carlson and Mark Jean. Based on the book Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt. Showtime, April 14, 1996. 105 min.

Running time

105 min.

Format

Television

Date of the First DVD or VHS

VHS release date: Feb. 16, 1999

Genre

Drama
Made-for-TV movies

Target Audience

Crossover

Cover

Missing cover

We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.


Author of the Entry:

Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, s.deacy@roehampton.ac.uk

Daniel Nkemleke, ENS University of Yaoundé 1, nkemlekedan@yahoo.com

Male portrait

Jack Baran (Producer)

Jack Baran is an assistant director and producer whose credits include Single White Female (1992). He appears in Bobby Roth’s filmmaking masterclass documentary A Director Prepares (2016).



Bio prepared by Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk


Male portrait

Christopher Carlson (Screenwriter)

Christopher Carlson is a screenwriter, playwright and novelist, who grew up in New Hampshire and Connecticut. The script he co-authored with Mark Jean for Homecoming received a 1997 Writers Guild nomination for Best Long Form Adaptation.

Official website (accessed: September 12, 2019).



Bio prepared by Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk


Male portrait

Mark Jean (Director, Screenwriter)

Mark Jean is a director and screenwriter who studied filmmaking at San Diego State University and attained a Master’s degree in directing from the American Film Institute. The script he co-authored with Christopher Carlson for Homecoming received a 1997 Writers Guild nomination for Best Long Form Adaptation. The film was also nominated for a 1997 Young Artist Award in the category Best Family TV Movie or Mini-Series – Cable. 

Official website (accessed: September 12, 2019).



Bio prepared by Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk


Male portrait

Shirō Sasaki (Producer)

Shirō Sasaki is a film and music producer known for his work on Japanese anime and music. A list of some of his work can be found on the Anime News Network’s encyclopedia (accessed: September 12, 2019).



Bio prepared by Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk


Female portrait

Cynthia Voigt (Author)

Cynthia Voigt is an American author best known for the Tillerman family novels. She is the author of 33 books for children and young people, and two books for adults, spanning a range of genres and audiences. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Voigt graduated from Smith College in 1963 and later became a secondary school English teacher. Her novels have won numerous awards, including the prestigious Newbery Medal for Dicey’s Song in 1983. The first Tillerman novel, Homecoming, was nominated for a National Book Award in 1982.

Official Website (accessed: 04 September, 2019).



Bio prepared by Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk 


Casting

Anne Bancroft (Abigail). Nominee, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries, Screen Actors Guild Awards 1997; Nominee, Actress in a Movie or Miniseries, CableACE Awards 1996.

Kimberlee Peterson (Dicey). Nominee, Best Performance in a TV Movie/Mini-Series – Young Actress, Young Artist Awards 1997; Nominee, Best Performance in a TV Movie/Home Video – Young Ensemble, Young Artist Awards 1997.

Trever O’Brien (James). Nominee, Best Performance in a TV Movie/Home Video – Young Ensemble, Young Artist Awards 1997.

Hanna Hall (Maybeth). Nominee, Best Performance in a TV Movie/Home Video – Young Ensemble, Young Artist Awards 1997.

William Greenblatt (Sammy). Nominee, Best Performance in a TV Movie/Home Video – Young Ensemble, Young Artist Awards 1997.

Anna Louise Richardson (Liza)

Scott Michael Campbell (Windy)

Bonnie Bedelia (Eunice)

Summary

Based on the novel of the same name, Homecoming tells the story of four siblings – Dicey, James, Maybeth and Sammy Tillerman– who are abandoned by their mother. (Their father had already abandoned the family some years before.) Led by the eldest, Dicey, the children make their way mostly on foot down the east coast of the United States. At their lowest ebb, they meet a student called Windy who drives them to the home of their cousin Eunice. Eunice is willing to take Dicey and Maybeth in but starts to make arrangements for the boys to be fostered elsewhere. Determined to stay together, the children run away from Eunice’s house and take a bus to Crisfield, Maryland, where their reclusive grandmother lives. The children must convince their grandmother, Abigail, that she should let them live with her on her farm, but she refuses the responsibility. The film ends with Abigail taking children to the bus stop to return to Eunice’s house. The bus pulls away to reveal that the children are still with Abigail, who then introduces them as her grandchildren for the first time, to a local storekeeper. On the boat journey back to the farm, Abigail asks Dicey, “Ready to go home?” and Dicey replies, “Ready.”

Analysis

Homecoming is a heartwarming depiction of family bonds and determination. While it is relatively faithful to the novel, with some dialogue reproduced verbatim, the film is more sentimental, perhaps reflecting its more general target audience. For example, the appearance of the children on-screen emphasises their tender years more than in the novel, where they are presented as competent survivors. Frequent close-up shots of Dicey are used to amplify her helplessness, isolation and responsibility for the younger siblings, who are often framed as a group of three in contrast to Dicey. This shifts once Abigail takes on the role of responsible adult, with the children framed as a group of four in the final scenes. Shots of loving parents and children are used throughout the film to provide a contrast with the abandoned Tillermans.

Classical references in this adaptation are less obvious than in its source material. Voigt’s novel has been compared to Homer’s Odyssey, with Dicey filling the role of Odysseus and other characters filling other roles in the story (see Henke 1985, 48-51). In the film, the children reach Abigail’s hometown 35 minutes in, meaning that both the sense of an epic journey and some of the classical allusions have been lost. Those that remain are:

  • Dicey’s encounter with the security guard (Polyphemus)
  • Windy, the student who helps the children find Eunice’s house (Aeolus) 
  • The children’s stay at Eunice’s house (formerly Aunt Cilla’s house and thus interpreted as a stand-in for Scylla), although their stay seems to have been truncated to one night.
  • The circus (Circe in Henke’s analysis) appears in the script but not the finished film. 

The majority of the film’s running time is devoted to the children’s arrival at Abigail’s home and subsequent battle of wills to persuade their grandmother that they should be allowed to live with her. In both the novel and film, these scenes can be interpreted as representing Odysseus’s homecoming and trials to prove himself to Penelope. Rather than focusing on the journey itself, the film’s emphasis is on the difficulties of relationship-building and the right to a safe home.


Further Reading

Carlson, Christopher, “Homecoming,” www.christopherccarlson.com (accessed: September 11, 2019).

Hardstaff, Sarah, “Economies of Childness in Cynthia Voigt’s Homecoming,” Children’s Literature in Education, 50.1 (2019): 47-59.

Henke, James T., “Dicey, Odysseus, and Hansel and Gretel: The Lost Children in Voigt’s Homecoming,” Children’s Literature in Education 16 (1985): 45-52.

“Homecoming.” IMDb (accessed: September 11, 2019).


Addenda

Trailer: christopherccarlson.com (accessed: January 22, 2020).

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