Film Nation: Hollywood Looks at U.S. History, Revised Edition

Overview

Events of the past decade have dramatically rewritten the American national narrative, bringing to light an alternate history of nation, marked since the county's origins by competing geopolitical interests, by mobility and migration, and by contending ethnic and racial groups.

In this revised and expanded edition of Film Nation, Robert Burgoyne analyzes films that give shape to the counternarrative that has emerged since 9/11—one that challenges the traditional myths of the ...

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Overview

Events of the past decade have dramatically rewritten the American national narrative, bringing to light an alternate history of nation, marked since the county's origins by competing geopolitical interests, by mobility and migration, and by contending ethnic and racial groups.

In this revised and expanded edition of Film Nation, Robert Burgoyne analyzes films that give shape to the counternarrative that has emerged since 9/11—one that challenges the traditional myths of the American nation-state. The films examined here, Burgoyne argues, reveal the hidden underlayers of nation, from the first interaction between Europeans and Native Americans (The New World), to the clash of ethnic groups in nineteenth-century New York (Gangs of New York), to the haunting persistence of war in the national imagination (Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima) and the impact of events of 9/11 on American identity (United 93 and World Trade Center).

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Can movies reflect history and still entertain? Do movies sometimes make history? How do we understand that after D.W. Griffith's groundbreaking but racist 1915 epic The Birth of a Nation opened, interest and membership in the KKK increased? These books grapple with such questions, albeit in an uninspired way. Cameron (Africa on Film, Continuum, 1996) takes a broad view, critiquing films by decade and classifying them by genres. Gaps are bound to occur in such a survey, but this book has too many curious inclusions and significant omissions. The format doesn't allow for decades like the Sixties, during the course of which the social and political tone of films changed greatly. Cameron has little new or interesting to say about the films he reviews. Burgoyne (film studies, Wayne State Univ.) chooses a narrower focus, covering five recent films (e.g., Glory and Forrest Gump) and examining how they treat issues of race, culture, national identity, and the American experience. The book errs in selecting two films by Oliver Stone (JFK and Born on the Fourth of July), and one feels the recent Last of the Mohicans could have yielded a more lively discussion. The language here is pretentious and exhausting, while the insights are modest. These two books are not necessary additions to film collections; libraries should consider Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies (LJ 8/95) as an alternative purchase.Stephen Rees, Levittown Regional Lib., Pa.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816642922
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 3/12/2010
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Burgoyne is professor and chair of film studies, University of St. Andrews.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Revised Edition ix

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction 1

1 Race and Nation in Glory 16

2 Native America, Thunderheart, and the National Imaginary 38

3 National Identity, Gender Identity, and the Rescue Fantasy in Born on the Fourth of July 57

4 Modernism and the Narrative of Nation in JFK 88

5 Prosthetic Memory/National Memory: Forrest Gump 104

6 The Columbian Exchange: Pocahontas and The New World 120

7 Homeland or Promised Land? The Ethnic Construction of Nation in Gangs of New York 143

8 Haunting in the War Film: Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima 164

9 Trauma and History in United 93 and World Trade Center 190

Notes 213

Index 231

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