Reassertions of Hollywood heroic agency in the Iraq War film

Authored by: Geoff King

The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Politics

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415717397
eBook ISBN: 9781315678863
Adobe ISBN: 9781317392460


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Hollywood features that are in some respects critical of the United States, either generally or in some particular dimensions, often do so at least partly through a questioning or undermining of the status of the central heroic protagonist, a key feature in the history of studio production and a major vehicle for the projection of dominant/prevailing ideology. This is the case in some of the most prominent treatments of the 1991 American invasion of Iraq, even if the questioning involved is often provisional or limited in its extent. Courage Under Fire (Zwick, 1996), for example, is structured around two such points of doubt: an investigation by an army officer into the actions of a female helicopter pilot, to determine the merits of the proposed award of a posthumous Medal of Honor, accompanied by the officer’s own feelings of guilt about the cover up of a ‘friendly fire’ incident in which he was involved. Heroism is eventually reaffirmed in general in both cases, although the impression of doubt is one that strongly shapes the bulk of the piece.

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