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July 1996, Week 4


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 26 Jul 1996 13:31:40 -0600
text/plain (43 lines)
Jennifer responds:
>Another aspect of this escalation (or is it a desensitization?) is in the
>portrayal of the Bomb itself.  What had been a source of apocalyptic fury
>in the past (see KISS ME DEADLY for what even a "small" atomic bomb
>represents) becomes just another weapon for blowing things up real good
>in recent films.  The emblematic image has to be Curtis and Schwarznegger
>embracing in front of a nuclear explosion at the end of TRUE LIES.  It's
>a long way from DR. STRANGLOVE.
I actually think Dr. Strangelove is an argument on the other side.  I see it
as one of the first horrifying film views of nuclear war threat.  The final
blow-up image, yes, but also its constant diegetic insanity -- the
characters and the cinematography (Peter Sellers in a schizophrenic three
roles).  The film is claustrophobic, scary, and charmingly and eerily
entertaining.  In a way, I think it was the precursor for many that followed
and failed.  The True Lies explosion looks different, more MTV 90's perhaps,
but is it "bigger?"
I don't think I expressed myself clearly.  DR. STRANGELOVE takes
nuclear destruction and milks it as black comedy, but it still
implies that the Bomb is ultimately catastrophic--at best, it will
ensure the survival of the Permanent Government crazies who retreat
underground.  It's an extremist twist on the apocalyptic scenarios
of more "serious" films from ON THE BEACH to FAIL-SAFE.
In TRUE LIES, on the other hand, there seems to be no real consequence
to the bomb's explosion.  (In most other films I can think of, the
race to *stop* the bomb from exploding has been paramount--GOLDFINGER,
for example.  Here, it seems no worse than, say, an exploding oil
Don Larsson, Mankato State U (MN)
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