Entertainment Books:

Film Nation

Hollywood Looks at U.S. History


Paperback / softback

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Film Nation by Robert Burgoyne
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In movies like "JFK" and "Forrest Gump", Robert Burgoyne sees a filmic extension of the debates that exercise America as a nation - debates about race and culture and national identity, about the nature and make-up of American history. In analyses of five films that challenge the traditional myths of the nation-state - "Glory", "Thunderheart", "JFK", "Born on the Fourth of July", and "Forrest Gump" - Burgoyne explores the reshaping of the American collective imaginary in relation to history. These movies, exploring the meaning of "nation" from below, highlight issues of power that underly the narrative construction of nationhood. This work exposes the faultlines between national myths and the historical experience of people typically excluded from those myths. Throughout, Burgoyne demonstrates that these films, in their formal design, also preserve relics of the imaginary past they contest. Here we see how the "genre memory" of the western, the war film, and the melodrama shapes these films, creating a complex exchange between old concepts of history and the alternative narratives of historical experience that contemporary texts propose. The book applies theories of nationalism and national identity to contemporary American films, revealing the cinematic rewriting of history now taking place as an attempt to rearticulate the cultural narratives that define America as a nation.
Release date NZ
August 1st, 1997
Country of Publication
United States
University of Minnesota Press
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