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Title: Spectacular narratives: Twister, independence day, and frontier mythology
Authors: King, G
Issue Date: 1999
Publisher: Blackwell
Citation: Journal of American Culture. 22 (1) 25-40
Abstract: Big-screen spectacle has become increasingly important to Hollywood in recent decades. It formed a central part of a post-war strategy aimed at tempting lost audiences back to the cinema in the face of demographic changes and the development of television and other domestic leisure activities. More recently, in an age in which the big Hollywood studios have become parts of giant conglomerates, the prevalence of spectacle and special effects has been boosted by a demand to engineer products that can be further exploited in multimedia forms such as computer games and theme-park rides, secondary outlets that can sometimes generate more profits than the films on which they are based. These and other developments have led some commentators to announce, or predict, the imminent demise of narrative as a central component of Hollywood cinema. But the case has been considerably overstated. Narrative is far from being eclipsed, even in the most spectacular and effects-oriented of today’s blockbuster attractions. These films still tend to tell reasonably coherent stories, even if they may sometimes be looser and less well integrated than classical models. More important for my argument, contemporary spectaculars also continue to manifest the kinds of underlying thematic oppositions and reconciliations associated with a broadly ‘structuralist’ analysis of narrative. This very important dimension of narrative has been largely ignored by those who identify, celebrate or more often bemoan a weakening of plot or character development in many spectacular features.
Appears in Collections:Media
Dept of Social Sciences Media and Communications Research Papers

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