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American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film

American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film (with Andrew Pepper)
Edinburgh University Press, 2005 / Rutgers University Press
ISBN 0 7486 1490 7
227 pages



First book to explore how and why post-Cold War Hollywood cinema has sought to interpret American history Hollywood has a growing fascination with America's past. This is evidenced in the release of a rash of films of this genre in the past 25 years. This book offers an analysis of how and why contemporary Hollywood films have sought to mediate American history. It is the first book to explore, comprehensively, the post-Cold War period of film-making, and to consider whether or how far contemporary films have begun to unravel the unifying myths of earlier films and periods. It also considers why such films are becoming increasingly integral to the ambitions of a globally-focused American film industry. The relationship between film and history - the way in which film mediates history and vice versa - is a complex one. In this book, the authors work from two main assumptions. First, that films revision events to challenge or, perhaps more typically, to reaffirm traditional historical interpretations. Second, that this process can only be understood in the context of contemporary debates about identity politics, America's role in world affairs, and the globalisation of the American film business.

Table of Contents



American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film: Introduction

1. Lessons from Hollywood’s American Revolution

Revolution; The Patriot

2. Rattling the Chains of History: Steven Spielberg’s Amistad and Telling Everyone’s Story

Roots; Amistad

3. Hollywood’s Civil War Dilemma: To Imagine or Unravel the Nation?

Gettysberg; Glory; Ride with the Devil; Cold Mountain

4. Saving the Good War: Hollywood and World War II in the Post-Cold War World

Saving Private Ryan; The Thin Red Line; U-571; Pearl Harbor

5. Oliver Stone and the Decade of Trauma

Platoon; Born on the Fourth of July; Heaven and Earth; JFK; Nixon

6. From Civil Rights to Black Nationalism: Hollywood vs. Black America?

Panther; Mississippi Burning; The Hurricane; Malcolm X; Ali

7. Hollywood’s Post-Cold War History: The Righteousness of American Interventionism

Three Kings; Black Hawk Down

Selected Bibliography