The Films of the Eighties: A Social History
Southern Illinois University Press, 1993 - 335 pages
In this remarkable sequel to his Films of the Seventies: A Social History, William J. Palmer examines more than three hundred films as texts that represent, revise, parody, comment upon, and generate discussion about major events, issues, and social trends of the eighties.
Palmer defines the dialectic between film art and social history, taking as his theoretical model the "holograph of history" that originated from the New Historicist theories of Hayden White and Dominick LaCapra. Combining the interests and methodologies of social history and film criticism, Palmer contends that film is a socially conscious interpreter and commentator upon the issues of contemporary social history. In the eighties, such issues included the war in Vietnam, the preservation of the American farm, terrorism, nuclear holocaust, changes in Soviet-American relations, neoconservative feminism, and yuppies.
Among the films Palmer examines are Platoon, The Killing Fields, The River, Out of Africa, Little Drummer Girl, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Silkwood, The Day After, Red Dawn, Moscow on the Hudson, Troop Beverly Hills, and Fatal Attraction. Utilizing the principles of New Historicism, Palmer demonstrates that film can analyze and critique history as well as present it.
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13 a Allusions to Vietnam are peppered throughout Under Fire . In one sequence the camera pans over the rooftop bar of the Hotel Continental where the journalists all sit drinking and watching Somoza's plane bombing his own capital .
One critic desribed Under Fire as a film about “ love , war and the press in Central America , " 14 but it really is not about any of those things . Under Fire is holographically layered with existential , historical , and philosophical ...
17 Unlike Under Fire it does not freeze and then step back to analyze its images . Salvador's images are immediate and powerful in their killing realism . Salvador's images are meant to shock , not to carry layers of symbolic meaning .
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The Vietnam War as Film Text
The Coming Home Films
The Terrorism Film Texts
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