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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Rambo's scars signal his prison camp past even as the brutal cop's nightstick and firehose link that past to the present . Like so many Vietnam veterans , John Rambo consistently exists in two time zones , the historical past in Vietnam ...
Where Scarface deals ultrarealistically with the present , Once Upon a Time in America is keyed , in its focus upon the jockeying for illegal liquor territories via violence , to the contextuality of the eighties .
... enforcement of on - site and government safety standards to the clear and present danger for both the environment and people of proximity to radioactive nuclear materials to the possibility of illegal nuclear arms proliferation .
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The Vietnam War as Film Text
The Coming Home Films
The Terrorism Film Texts
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