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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Yet the whole book consistently focuses , whether the issue at hand is an international or a domestic one , upon the film representations of those issues as they participated in American culture .
This whole cluster of time - travel movies embody Hayden White's concepts of a " metahistory " that can go back and by means of critical reinterpretation change the meaning of history . Themes like this concept of self - reflexivity ...
In fact , the Vietnam War became a whole series of texts . The textuality issue as a starting point in turn involves two other essential issues : ( 1 ) what and where that text is ; ( 2 ) how to interpret that text .
... which changes the whole context of violence in the film . " In a war , " as Samuel Popkin has stated , " the first and foremost issue is the containment of violence . " 5 Dirty Harry operating in San Francisco is trying to contain ...
... not some abstract morality symbolism for modern man . The Vietnam War Film History The literary concept of story has found diverse form in a large and growing body of Vietnam War literature . Simultaneously a whole body of ...