The Films of the Eighties: A Social History
SIU Press, 1995 - 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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While the Heaven's Gate and The Cotton Club sagas failed miserably , other sagas - Platoon , Born on the Fourth of July - succeeded in stimulating audience interest . The eighties , then , was a decade of commercial performance ...
Platoon , released in December of 1986 , was the first of five major films all focusing upon the Vietnam experience . It was a year of self - examination and reconciliation to the history of the previous decade .
... of Mississippi Burning : " I wouldn't pretend that Mississippi Burning is the definitive story of the civil rights movement the way that Platoon or Apocalypse Now were meant to be definitive stories about the Vietnam War .
Films like Platoon ( 1986 ) , Off Limits , Full Metal Jacket ( 1987 ) , or Hamburger Hill ( 1987 ) provide fuel for the American imagination because that is where the real text of the Vietnam War now resides . Perhaps the best example ...
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