As a technology able to picture and embody the temporality of the past, cinema has become central to the mediation of memory in modern cultural life. The memory of film scenes and movies screens, cinema and cinema-going, has become integral to the placement and location of film within the cultural imagination of this century and the last. This book is a sustained, interdisciplinary perspective on memory and film from early cinema to the present. The first section examines the relationship between official and popular history and the constitution of memory narratives in and around the production and consumption of American cinema. The second section examines the politics of memory in a series of chapters that take as their focus three pivotal sites of national conflict in postwar America. This includes the war in Vietnam, American race relations and the Civil Rights Movement, and the history of marginality in the geographic and cultural borderlands of the US. The book explores the articulation of Vietnam. The final section concentrates on the issue of mediation; it explores how technological and semiotic shifts in the cultural terrain have influenced the coding and experience of memory in contemporary cinema. It considers both the presence of music and colour in nostalgia films of the 1990s and the impact of digital and video technologies on the representational determinants of mediated memory. The book also examines the stakes of cultural remembering in the United States and the means by which memory has been figured through Hollywood cinema.
form of commercial reruns, generic recycling, critical retrospectives or
popular reminiscence, the memory of film scenes and movies screens, cinema
and cinema-going, has become integral to the placement and location of film
within the cultural imagination of this century and the last.
This volume uses memory as a specific framework for the study
of popularfilm, intervening in growing debates about the status and
memorialised past is increasingly dependent upon, and recycled within,
audiovisual representations such as those found in popularfilm. My aim
is to consider how 1990s Hollywood cinema has activated a selective,
revised sense of the past, and how memory approaches to film history are
able to analyse this. In particular, I will stress how popular cultural
memory is drawn upon as an aesthetic and commercial strategy of Hollywood
Memories of cinema-going in the ‘Golden Age’ of Hollywood
The cinema-going past lives on in
the local press. This chapter has tried to present various patterns of
memory that emerge in a specific city context, suggesting that the
relationship between memory and popularfilm is just as much about
social activity as it is about specific movies. For The Nottingham
Evening Post and its supplement publication Bygones, memory
narratives are one of the ways in
resulting from the reach for mainstream appeal,
popularfilms do inscribe and transcode ideological positions
within particular discursive fields. Such is the case, I would argue,
with Pleasantville and Forrest Gump. Both films combine
digital innovation and cultural invocation to allegorise the
significance of the 1960s, making alternate claims in the hegemonic
battle to control the decade’s ‘memory
Paramount chose the Diamond Jubilee debut
setting, but also the cultural origins of and economic contexts within
which emergent New Era corporations like motion picture companies
promoted ‘authentic’ historical memory in the guise of popularfilm. 43 In Remaking America ,
a study of the relationship between national industries and historical
commemoration during the twentieth century, Bodnar argues that such
Writing in 1991, Michael Kammen stated that, 'For more than a decade, the connection between collective memory and national identity has been a matter of intense and widespread interest'. In 1923 the Yale University Press undertook production of a series of educational feature films, the Chronicles of America, intended to instruct the nation's populace in their country's glorious history. The Chronicles' way of making better citizens was to persuade them of the virtues of Englishness and whiteness. This chapter looks in detail at the Chronicles' representation of Native Americans, briefly delineating the contemporary political situation that may have motivated the negativity and contrasting it with Hollywood's more positive or at the very least ambivalent portrayal. The Puritans details the hardships encountered by some of the country's first white inhabitants: 'Privation and sorrow are the common lot during these early days in Massachusetts', declares an intertitle.
Film festivals and the revival of Classic Hollywood
This chapter explores the circulation of old Hollywood movies, especially, those produced between 1910 and 1960, at the London Film Festival during the years 1981-2001. In 1981, the London Film Festival's parent organisation, the British Film Institute, published Water Under the Bridge, a dossier on the history of the festival's first twenty-five years, from its founding in 1957 to that date. The chapter provides a means of revisiting and updating some of the information contained in that dossier. The Thames Silent Classics series established a useful baseline for examining the revival of classic Hollywood cinema at the London festival. In 1999, the festival screening of How Green Was My Valley was advertised as a 'chance to see another of the impeccable restorations of classic American films to come out of the Academy Film Archive in Beverly Hills'.
This chapter explores, within a context of culture and power, the complex relations between memory and desire. It links 1980s Hollywood representations of America's war in Vietnam with George Bush's campaign, in late 1990 and early 1991 to win support for US involvement in what became the Gulf War. The chapter argues that Hollywood produced a particular 'regime of truth' about America's war in Vietnam and that this body of 'knowledge' was 'articulated' by George Bush as an enabling 'memory' in the build up to the Gulf War. When, in the build up to the Gulf War, Bush had asked Americans to remember the Vietnam War, the memories recalled by many Americans would have been of a war they had lived cinematically; a war of bravery and betrayal. Hollywood's Vietnam had provided the materials to rehearse, elaborate, interpret and retell an increasingly dominant memory of America's war in Vietnam.
Historical facts as we retrieve and interpret them are only one facet of the movie-made Movement. This chapter assesses what films made after the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s express about the failure of the Movement to sustain and be sustained in its challenges to inequality and racist injustice. It argues that popular cultural currency relies on invoking images present in the sedimented layers of civil rights preoccupations but that in the 1980s and 1990s movies also tap into 'structures of feeling'. Movie memories circulate among producers, directors, and audiences; an archival memory-store of civil rights iconography, or an 'arcade' of motifs, to borrow Walter Benjamin's terminology, finds space in the popular cultural imaginary that is contemporary cinema. Mississippi Burning was the first Hollywood blockbuster to focus on the Movement.