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.
The importance of film history lies not in the images or themes of individual films but in the emplotted metaphors and motifs shared by groups of films that together portray , approach , and often even comment upon a specific historical ...
Typically , the media discussion of films is re- stricted to the " Arts and Liesure " pages of the newspaper , but in the eighties , films frequently gained the status of hard news or editorial metaphor . At times , film even took on a ...
The Vietnam War became the dominant metaphor for postmodernist confusion , paranoia , and aliena- tion within both eighties society and film . Perhaps the best example of this self - reflexive consciousness in both the social history ...
... 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 .
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