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.
Except for brush - fire wars of short duration , compared with World War II and Vietnam , both decades enjoyed peace attended by cold war manuevering against Russia . Both were acutely nuclear holocaust conscious : the fifties in the ...
Similarly , America's relationship to Russia and the cold war maneuverings of detente spawned another cluster of films of sociohistoric signification . Of the domestic issues of the decade , eighties film history developed an ongoing ...
It resurrected issues from the fifties , the nuclear threat and detente , to deal with the new cold war of the eighties . It consistently alluded to the history of the sixties and the seventies , principally the Vietnam War , the civil ...
... in the eighties political thrillers build their plots upon the themes of international terrorism , international economic collapse , cold war intrigue and espionage , international blackmail , and fanatical revolu- tion .
... and in the American social consciousness all through the eighties because it had become a metaphor for what America was afraid it was going to become in the economic and political cold war with Russia and Japan , a loser .