American Cinema in the Shadow of 9/11

Edited by Terence McSweeney

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A comprehensive critical survey of the impact of 9/11 on Film, written by some of the foremost scholars in American cinema

American Cinema in the Shadow of 9/11 is a ground-breaking collection of essays by some of the foremost scholars writing in the field of contemporary American film. Through a dynamic critical analysis of the defining films of the turbulent post-9/11 decade, the volume explores and interrogates the impact of 9/11 and the 'War on Terror' on American cinema and culture. In a vibrant discussion of films like American Sniper (2014), Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Spectre (2015), The Hateful Eight (2015), Lincoln (2012), The Mist (2007), Children of Men (2006), Edge of Tomorrow (2014) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), noted authors Geoff King, Guy Westwell, John Shelton Lawrence, Ian Scott, Andrew Schopp, James Kendrick, Sean Redmond, Steffen Hantke and many others consider the power of popular film to function as a potent cultural artefact, able to both reflect the defining fears and anxieties of the tumultuous era, but also shape them in compelling and resonant ways.

Key Features

  • Fifteen original essays by some of the foremost scholars in American Cinema
  • Features essays on the key films of the era, along with many that have previously been overlooked in scholarly literature
  • The volume is critically informed but vibrant and engaging
  • Includes chapters by Geoff King, Guy Westwell, John Shelton Lawrence and Robert Jewett, Ian Scott, Andrew Schopp, James Kendrick, Sean Redmond, Steffen Hantke and many others
Case Studies
  • AmericanEast (Hesham Issawi, 2008)
  • American Sniper (Clint Eastwood, 2014)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (Joss Whedon, 2015)
  • Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006)
  • Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
  • Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino, 2012)
  • Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman, 2014)
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Stephen Daldry, 2011)
  • Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978)
  • Halloween (Rob Zombie, 2007)
  • Halloween II (Rob Zombie, 2009)
  • The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino, 2015)
  • Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
  • The Kingdom (Peter Berg, 2007)
  • Lincoln (Steven Spielberg, 2012)
  • Marvel Avengers Assemble (Joss Whedon, 2012) U.S Title The Avengers
  • Pearl Harbour (Michael Bay, 2001)
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Mira Nair, 2012)
  • RoboCop (Paul Verhoeven, 1987)
  • RoboCop (José Padilha, 2014)
  • The Siege (Edward Zwick, 1998)
  • Source Code (Duncan Jones, 2011)
  • Spectre (Sam Mendes, 2015)
  • Unstoppable (Tony Scott, 2011)
  • The Walk (Robert Zemeckis, 2015)
  • The War Within (Joseph Castrello, 2005)
  • Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow, 2012)

List of Illustrations Acknowledgements Foreword

Introduction, "American Cinema in the Shadow of 9/11"

PART ONE: Dramatisations of the 'War on Terror'

1. "The Mythic Shape of American Sniper (2015)" by John Shelton Lawrence and Robert Jewett

2. "Responding to Realities or Telling the Same Old Story? Mixing Real-World and Mythic Resonances in The Kingdom (2007) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012)" by Geoff King

3. "Acts of Redemption and ‘The Falling Man’ Photograph in Post-9/11 US Cinema" by Guy Westwell

4. "‘You Be Very Mindful of How You Act’: Post-9/11 Culture and Arab American Subjectivities in Joseph Castelo’s The War Within (2005) and Hesham Issawi’s AmericanEast (2008)" by Paul Petrovic

5. "Refracting fundamentalism in Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012)" by Ana Cristina Mendes and Karen Bennett

PART TWO: Influences of the 'War on Terror'

6. "‘Not now that strength’ Embodiment and Globalisation in Post-9/11 James Bond " by Vincent M. Gaine

7. "Training the Body Politic: Networked Masculinity and the 'War on Terror' in Hollywood Film" by Adam Knee

8. "‘Gettin’ Dirty’: Tarantino’s Vengeful Justice, The Marked Viewer, and Post-9/11 America" by Andrew Schopp

9. "Stop the Clocks: Lincoln and Post-9/11 Cinema" by Ian Scott

10. "Foreshadows of the Fall: Questioning 9/11’s Impact on American Attitudes" by Stephen Joyce

PART THREE: Allegories of the 'War on Terror'

11. "Daddy, I'm scared. Can we go home?": Fear and Allegory in Frank Darabont’s The Mist (2007) by Terence McSweeney

12. "The Terrible, Horrible Desire to Know: Post-9/11 Horror Remakes, Reboots, Sequels, and Prequels" by James Kendrick

13. "Post-9/11 Power and Responsibility in the Marvel Cinematic Universe" by Christine Muller

14. "Nowhere left to Zone in Children of Men (2006)" by Sean Redmond

15. "Traumatize, Repeat, Finish: Military Science Fiction (Long) after 9/11 and Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow (2014)" by Steffen Hantke

Afterword Selected Filmography Index

Both [of Terence McSweeney's] publications provide fascinating and timely discussions of contemporary cultural texts in an accessible and engaging way. They are guaranteed to spark the interest of varied audiences, from students of American studies to researchers theorizing post-9/11 representations, ideologies and discourses in popular culture, politics and the media. The authors’ fast-paced style and passion for academically overlooked, yet hugely popular films, will certainly appeal to the non-specialist public intrigued by the subtexts of box office hits.
Maria-Irina Popescu, University of Essex, European Journal of American Culture
Gripping and smart, American Cinema in the Shadow of 9/11 is a must-read for cinema students and researchers. It offers especially timely and important analyses of post-9/11 US film through a series of lucid essays that incisively explore how the traumas and anxieties of the terrorist attacks continue to haunt American identity and its imaginary. I can’t recommend this book enough for anyone interested in the cultural function of film, narrative, and allegory.'
Dr Anna Froula, East Carolina University
Terence McSweeney is Senior Lecturer in the School of Media Arts and Technology, Southampton Solent University.

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