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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In most instances , film is a reactive analytic text that explores what happened after the historical fact , but in some instances film takes up direct simultaneous participation in the texts of social history and even predicts the ...
Other issues – such as the farm crisis or the attempt to understand what happened to a soldier in - country Vietnam - drew pockets of concentrated focus at circumscribed points in the decade . The eighties in film history actually began ...
... this is what happened . " This became " history . " In a sense , we as filmmakers are contemporary historians . The system - basically the networks - writes history . They tell you what's important , what exists .
... and interpreting of " perceived " facts built time lines and strategies of what happened in Vietnam as a means of possibly understanding . Another tunneltext , the literary text , was an existential text focusing upon the individual ...
It is much harder to grasp when it is not happening , when it is being pondered and intellectualized . This distinction is one reason why the mass culture of American society can learn so much about the Vietnam War from films .