The Films of the Eighties: A Social History
Southern Illinois University Press, 1993 - 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 image aligns Rambo with a whole history of American outcasts , from the hobos of the Great Depression to the beats of Jack Kerouac's On the Road to the wandering youth of the sixties . “ Who is he ? " the image asks .
Rambo , you certainly don't know as much about me as I do about you . I haunched with the 2nd Battalion , 3rd Marines at Kontum in 1966. I lost a lot of good men , so I know what you and every vet feels . Now a maybe the government ...
Perhaps the most telling criticism in Rambo II of how the Vietnam War was conducted explores the American overconfidence in firepower and technology . Before the mission begins , Rambo is assured “ besides the monitoring devices you see ...
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The Vietnam War as Film Text
The Coming Home Films
The Terrorism Film Texts
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