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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Testament's final section is a depressingly positive exercise in Sisyphean futility and human endurance . ... the family struggle to preserve their humanity and their ability to love in an increasingly hostile , utterly hopeless world .
In this spook world , the hardware of spying may be the highest of tech and infallible , but the humans in the loop are comically ... microwave antennas , heat sensors , they rather significantly brighten the workload of human spies .
It is a liberation from " endless lines , " from total lack of privacy ( he must borrow a friend's apartment in order to make love in Moscow ) , from harassment for simply expressing human ...
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