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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The texts of those films ' social history not only exposed but probed those " deeper , disquieting elements " of the main issues of the eighties and took mass audiences beneath the story lines of " official history .
... information were flexible , different pieces of ground told different stories to different people . " 4 Of all the humanities disciplines , history has resisted adaptation to the electronic / computer age the most tenaciously .
... nineteenth century when the overriding motive was " to tell a story , " but only one story . For White , these static historians are unable " to identify themselves with action painters , kinetic sculptors , existentialist novelists ...
The New Historicism wishes to elevate the documents of history from the subservient position of tools in the construction of a monologic , omnisciently narrated story to the contributary position of free voices in the dialogic holograph ...
The " historical imagination , " for White , attempts " to explain the past by ' finding , identifying , ' or ' uncovering the stories that lie buried in chronicles . " The problem is , however , that after a given set of events has ...
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The Vietnam War as Film Text
The Coming Home Films
The Terrorism Film Texts
The Nuclear War Film Texts
From the Evil Empire to Glasnost
The Feminist Farm Crisis and Other Neoconservative
The Yuppie Texts
Film in the Holograph of New History