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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Simultaneously , however , these films lobbied for the nuclear disarmament that would become a major political issue of the decade . Nineteen eighty - four was the Year of the Family Farm in film history .
The documentary historian's conception of textuality has too often been an exploitative one that " often encouraged narrowly documentary readings in which the text becomes little more than a sign of the times or a straightforward ...
29 In the second half of the twentieth century , film art has become deeply involved in the holograph of history . It draws its subject matters from history , but it has become much less concerned with epic documentation as in the ...
... TEXT PRIMARY TEXT ( plot ) SUBTEXTS ( themes ) METATEXTS ( self - reflexive discourses ) IDEA What this declares is that in contemporary society history has become a text for interpreting and often substantiating present action .
Perhaps the best example of this phenomenon of a mass medium itself actually becoming news is the made - for - TV movie The Day After . The impact of that single " media event " so catalyzed public opinion that it influenced the Reagan ...