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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Fight wars . Fight windmills . Go off bridges . " This fighting of imaginary windmills , Vietnam veterans trying to reenter a society of which they are purportedly a part , is the theme both of The Stunt Man and of Eli Cross's movie ...
He said he didn't know how they were going to fight World War III , but he knew how they would fight World War IV , with sticks and stones . " The concluding scenes of The Day After support Einstein's prediction .
DRAGO'S MANAGER : We fight in Soviet Union or we fight nowhere . Why don't you ask Drago's wife why she is afraid ? Tell them please . LUDMILLA : I am afraid for my husband's life . We have threats of violence everywhere .
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The Vietnam War as Film Text
The Coming Home Films
The Terrorism Film Texts
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The Drunken Journalist: The Biography of a Film Stereotype
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