A witty and penetrating look at the celluloid culture of the 1960s by the Village Voice's celebrated film critic.
In The Dream Life, Village Voice film critic J. Hoberman turns his attention to the 1960s, the era when politics and culture became one. With wildly entertaining reinterpretations of key Hollywood movies (such as Dr. Strangelove, Bonnie and Clyde, The Wild Bunch, and Shampoo), Hoberman reconstructs the hidden political history of 1960s cinema. Meanwhile, against the pageantry of four national elections—1960 to 1972—he describes the formation of America's spectacular, image-laden political culture.
In the era when the missile gap, the sexual revolution, and the Vietnam War became inseparable from the triumph of television, the development of political image-making, and the advent of Pop Art, American politics, mass media, and publicity became the new social spectacle. Through meditations on the personas of Che Guevara, John Wayne, Patty Hearst, Jane Fonda, Ronald Reagan, and Dirty Harry, Hoberman moves deftly between the political backgrounds of movies and the fantastic dimensions of politics, producing a brilliant and comic cultural history of the rise of our mass-mediated politics.
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In what the New York Times’s A.O. Scott called a “suave, scholarly tour de force,” J. Hoberman delivers a brilliant and witty look at the decade when politics and pop culture became one.
This was the era of the Missile Gap and the Space Race, the Black and Sexual Revolutions, the Vietnam War and Watergate—as well as the tele-saturation of the American market and the advent of Pop art. In “elegant, epigrammatic prose,” as Scott put it, Hoberman moves from the political histories of movies to the theater of wars, national political campaigns, and pop culture events.
With entertaining reinterpretations of key Hollywood movies (such as Bonnie and Clyde, The Wild Bunch, and Shampoo), and meditations on personages from Che Guevara, John Wayne, and Patty Hearst to Jane Fonda, Ronald Reagan, and Dirty Harry, Hoberman reconstructs the hidden political history of 1960s cinema and the formation of America’s mass-mediated politics.
J. Hoberman is the author, co-author, or editor of a dozen books, including the trilogy The Dream Life, An Army of Phantoms, and the forthcoming Found Illusions (all from The New Press) and Film After Film. He has written for Artforum, Bookforum, the London Review of Books, The Nation, and the New York Review of Books; contributes the “On Video” column for the New York Times; has taught cinema history at Cooper Union since 1990; and was, for over thirty years, a film critic for the Village Voice. He lives in New York.
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