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By Annemarie Schimmel

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But it pins down a very significant element that offers a key to explain why, in the case of comedy, certain things seem to work and others do not. For comedy to work, the spectators must understand the norms from which it deviates. 55 Historical Comedy on Screen In the case of a historical film comedy, what are the norms from which the film might deviate? As with all comedies these norms may be (1) aesthetic norms or (2) today’s norms of behaviour. Spectators are well acquainted with what is normal behaviour, at least in their own culture, and they usually know what aesthetics to expect in a film.

A concept formulated by Masahiro Mori, a Japanese roboticist. Mori tested people’s emotional responses to a wide variety of robots, from non-humanoid to completely humanoid. He found that the human tendency to empathize with machines increases as the robot becomes more human. But at a certain point, when the robot becomes too human, the emotional sympathy abruptly ceases, and revulsion takes its place. People began to notice not the charmingly human characteristics of the robot but the creepy zombielike differences.

T. Vaaskivi ja suomalaisen historiallisen romaanin murros 1930–1940-luvulla, Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 1992. Kalela, Jorma, Historiantutkimus ja historia, Helsinki: Gaudeamus, 2000. Lowenthal, David, The Past Is a Foreign Country, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Plato, Apology, Crito, and Phaedo of Socrates, trans. Henry Cary, Middlesex: Echo Library, 2009. , Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to Our Idea of History, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.

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