The Films of the Eighties: A Social History
SIU Press, 1995 - 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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LaCapra echoes White in arguing that postmodernist historians , unlike the historians of the past who sought " to find order in seeming chaos , " 14 have realized that the " dream of a ' total history corroborating the historian's own ...
18 In a sense , White is defining a new theory of taxonomy based upon style and structure rather than upon subject matter or subdiscipline approach or genre . For White , historical discourse especially should aim toward " the ...
The " historical imagination , " for White , attempts " to explain the past by ' finding , identifying , ' or ' uncovering the stories that lie buried in chronicles . " The problem is , however , that after a given set of events has ...
Both Hayden White and Dominick LaCapra stress the duty of history to study " mechanisms of diffusion " whereby " texts and other artifacts are circulated and used in society . " 27 In these mechanisms of diffusion , historical events ...
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The Vietnam War as Film Text
The Coming Home Films
The Terrorism Film Texts
The Nuclear War Film Texts
From the Evil Empire to Glasnost
The Feminist Farm Crisis and Other Neoconservative
The Yuppie Texts
Film in the Holograph of New History