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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... writes , " the tendency to ignore the deeper , disquieting elements within the mythic history they write ; and the likelihood of finding an enthusiastic mass audience for the finished texts . " 5 What the films of the eighties managed ...
... writes , " the worth of history would not have to be defended in the timid and ambivalent ways that are now used . " 1 One conservative historian answers White with scorn by characterizing all attempts to vitalize dry - as - dust ...
... writes that in Platoon Oliver Stone " has gone after a lean , terrifyingly real vision of war , one that audiences will find hard to shake . " Stanley Kauffman ( New Republic , 19 January 1987 ) writes : " Stone has written and directed ...
The Vietnam War as Film Text
The Coming Home Films
The Terrorism Film Texts
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