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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... actually influence , and participate in the social history of its time . Over the course of the decade , major sociohistorical issues accumulated referential bodies of films that formed coherent " texts . " Other issues- such as the ...
... actually participate in the making of history by motivating the mass mind of society to its own historical ... actually became historical text rather than vice versa . Perhaps the best example of this phenomenon of a mass medium itself ...
... actually believe the planning of a war that could destroy the world and civilization as we know it is really a game . In War Games , the idea that nuclear weapons can be used as board pieces in a complex strategy game is ironically ...
The Vietnam War as Film Text
The Coming Home Films
The Terrorism Film Texts
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