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Film Nation: Hollywood Looks at U.S. History Hardcover – August 1, 1997
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From 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.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Film Nation is distinguished by Robert Burgoyne’s critical acuity, his on-the-money remarks about the subjects he interrogates, as well as the singularity of his focus on American Cinema and the ways by which film suggests much about American national identity." —Cineaste
"In Film Nation Robert Burgoyne argues that popular film plays a crucial role in formulating the imagined community of the nation state. A rewarding read." —Film and History
"Film Nation rewards the reader with a continuous flow of stimulating ideas about how to discuss the content of recent history films." —Journal of American History
"Any historian who is interested in investigating film as history should forget about disciplinary turf wars and read Robert Burgoyne’s Film Nation: Hollywood Looks at U.S. History. A theoretically sophisticated but clearly and elegantly written work." —Rethinking History