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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... human colony gone suddenly silent , he says : " Their training and technology are inappropriate for the specifics , and that can be seen as analogous to the inability of superior American firepower to conquer the unseen enemy in Viet ...
... human endurance . Knowing that her efforts can never work , Carol Wetherly tries to make life go on as usual for her family . It is clear to everyone involved , including the theater audience , that her efforts are a futile illusion ...
... human emotions , twists them into deformity . The yuppie dream replaces the human with the purely material , sexuality with money and power . " See that building over there , ” Gekko brags to Bud Fox . " It was my first real estate deal ...
The Vietnam War as Film Text
The Coming Home Films
The Terrorism Film Texts
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