Explores contemporary American films that challenge official history.
Our movies have started talking back to us, and Film Nation takes a close look at what they have to say. In movies like JFK and Forrest Gump, Robert Burgoyne sees a filmic extension of the debates that exercise us as a nation -- debates about race and culture and national identity, about the nature and makeup 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 our collective imaginary in relation to our history. These movies, exploring the meaning of "nation" from below, highlight issues of power that underlie the narrative construction of nationhood. Film Nation exposes the fault lines 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 first book to apply theories of nationalism and national identity to contemporary American films, Film Nation reveals the cinematic rewriting of history now taking place as a powerful attempt to rearticulate the cultural narratives that define America as a nation.
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