Smoke gets in your eyes: Re-reading gender in the "Nostalgia film"

Smith, Frances (2018) Smoke gets in your eyes: Re-reading gender in the "Nostalgia film". Quarterly Review of Film and Video. ISSN 1050-9208

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Abstract

Upon its release, American Graffiti (George Lucas, 1973) was much admired by critics and audiences alike. Yet, in subsequent years, the film became known for its supposed “flattening of history,” and celebration of patriarchal values. This article demonstrates that such a judgement owes much to Fredric Jameson’s historically contingent work on postmodernism, which argues that American Graffiti constitutes the paradigmatic nostalgia film. In contrast, using close textual analysis, I demonstrate that American Graffiti provides a more complex construction of the past, and of gender, than has hitherto been acknowledged. Far from blindly idealising the early 1960s, the film interrogates the processes through which the period and its gender relations come to be idealised. This article has consequences not only for our understanding of Lucas’ seminal film, but also for the American New Wave, and the “nostalgia” text.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: American Graffiti, George Lucas, nostalgia, gender, American New Wave
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women > HQ1101 Women. Feminism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion pictures
Depositing User: Frances Catherine Elizabeth Smith
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2018 16:18
Last Modified: 22 May 2018 16:11
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/74312

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