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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Film , " Graeme Turner writes , " is a social practice for its makers and its audience ; in its narratives and meanings we can locate evidence of the ways in which our culture makes sense of itself . " 3 The Films of the Eighties : A ...
events of modern life into a single coherent narrative pursuant to a single meaning : " it will be lived better if it has no single meaning but many different ones . " 8 Late - twentieth - century historicism needs to define itself as a ...
The problem is , however , that after a given set of events has been motifically encoded " 24 by the historian , he is satisfied and fails to interpret the meaning or meanings of those events , not to mention their contextual ...
... swirling around characters , burying characters in complexities , utterly confusing characters , often leaving characters suspended in a nihilistic void in which history either has no meaning or has too many meanings to comprehend .
Film can capture the simultaniety of the events of history , the multiplicity of history's meanings . Film , better than any other medium , is capable of reacting to that need to exist within the confusion of postmodernist life .