Action Movies Essay Research Paper Simply by — страница 2

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comedies and "caper" films — also works with plenty of action in them — from the silent period of Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd to more recent madcap tales such as A Fish Called Wanda (1988) or the films of Jim Carrey (The Mask, 1994; Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, 1994). Action films are also distinct from other films with an emphasis on death and violence, including disaster films (Airport, 1970; Towering Inferno, 1974; Earthquake, 1974; and The Poseidon Adventure, 1972), in which the narrative is driven by nature or the elements run amuck. The action film is also distinct from adventure films in the swashbuckling tradition of Errol Flynn (Captain Blood, 1935; The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1938), in which the emphasis on swordplay over gunplay

changes the stakes and the style of the violence and invests in a more courtly version of aggression. The Three Musketeers, (1993) is a teen pic disguised as a costume drama. The Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle The Man in the Iron Mask (1998), and the The Mask of Zorro (1997), starring Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas, are all invested in this earlier paradigm, though each shows the influence of the action film. Seen this way, the Steven Spielberg/Harrison Ford Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)) series is as much adventure film as it is action.The action film is also distinct from the war and combat genres, since the violence that erupts tends to occur in ostensibly safe places, such

as the home, or public spheres of culture (the theatre), consumption (the department store or mall), and travel (planes, trains, cars, and buses). Finally, a broad definition of the action film might include films such as Jurassic Park (1993) and its sequel Jurassic Park: The Lost World (1997), or Star Wars (1977) and its sequels (The Empire Strikes Back, 1980, and Return of the Jedi, 1982) and prequel (The Phantom Menace 1999). But at least two factors rule it out in a narrower consideration: the fantasy elements of both extreme past or future override the action, and none of these films is driven by a strong male star presence.The action film is also eminently hybrid, and increasingly so under postmodern conditions where hybridity is a going rate of exchange. Consider the

strong presence of the Western genre in Die Hard (1988), the action film that made Bruce Willis an international star. The cop Dirty Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry, 1971) overlapped with other Clint Eastwood figures of the Western protagonist, presenting generic differentiation but embodying a very similar paradigm of masculinity. Both the Western hero and Dirty Harry (a paradigmatically 1970s action figure) usually wind up at the end of the film as solitary as they started, isolated from the very society whose needs they serve and protect and unsure whether or not they'd really prefer things to have worked out any differently. In any case, no one doubts their ability to get the job done. One is only left wondering, at the end, whether, in the Vietnam and Watergate Era, there is now

anything at all left for them to do. The ascendance of Ronald Reagan changed that, and inspired evolutions in the action hero and the action film.Bruce Willis in Die Hard represents a full shift, a move (as did Sylvester Stallone's John Rambo before him in First Blood (1982), Rambo: First Blood Part 2 (1985), and Rambo III (1988) (a blatantly Reaganite film "Dedicated to the Brave People of Afghanistan"), into a whole new permutation of the action genre, which displaces the Western's struggle for control of the frontier into the context of both the present tense and an urban environment, two things anathema to the Western. Also, unlike either most Westerns or '70s action films, the hero ends the film integrated into, rather than separate from, the community he has just

saved. As writer Susan Jeffords has described, heroes such as Willis are the hardbodies of the Reagan Era. At the first level of address, Die Hard articulates a gleeful re-engagement with the ability to do that which Reagan seemed to enable, and given the explicitly serial nature of so many of these films (as opposed to Dirty Harry's films which never had sequentially numbered titles), it was implied that the Hard Body hero could do it endlessly. Hewing (more symptomatically than actively) to a Reaganite attachment to the ideology of Manifest Destiny, Die Hard is dependent on a Western-derived understanding that the frontier is a space of contention, both physical and ideological, and that the resolution of this contention in favor of the hero will also result in the ability to