Darkness in the Bliss-Out: A Reconsideration of the Films of Steven Spielberg.pdf
James Kendrick is that rare critic who sees and understands the dark side of Steven Spielberg's films. Kendrick perceptively explores the ways that Spielberg has grappled in film with the nature of human suffering and with personal and historical trauma. Kendrick reveals a depth of complexity in the films that challenges the popular understanding of Spielberg as being mainly a director of popcorn movies. -- Stephen Prince, Professor of Cinema Studies, Virginia Tech, USA, and author of Firestorm: American Film in the Age of Terrorism This is a necessary book - I would say indispensable to Spielberg studies. The book develops the current burgeoning critical mass of scholarly writings on Spielberg in new ways, and is a timely addition to the field. Kendrick is an elegant writer, has grounded his persuasive close readings in a thorough account of film historical and critical contexts, and presents his case with due scholarly rigor. -- Linda Ruth Williams, Professor of Film, University of Southampton, UK
James Kendrick is an Associate Professor of Film and Digital Media at Baylor University, USA. He is the author of Hollywood Bloodshed: Violence in 1980s American Cinema (2009) and Film Violence: History, Ideology, Genre (2009), as well as numerous book chapters and journal articles. He is also the film and video critic for QNetwork.com.
Preface Introduction-Steven Spielberg and the Politics of Bliss Chapter 1-'I Didn't Want to See This': Weekend America and Its Discontents in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., and Poltergeist Chapter 2-'Americans Fighting Americans': Incoherence and Animal Comedy in 1941 Chapter 3-'What Exactly Are We Applauding?' Indiana Jones and the Ideologies of Heroism and American Exceptionalism Chapter 4-'Lost and Done For:' The Rejection of War Fantasies in Empire of the Sun and War Horse Chapter 5-'For the World's More Full of Weeping Than You Can Understand': Humanity and Inhumanity in A.I. Artificial Intelligence Works Cited Index
While there has been a significant outpouring of scholarship on Steven Spielberg over the past decade, his films are still frequently discussed as being paternalistic, escapist, and reliant on uncomplicated emotions and complicated special effects. Even those who view his work favorably often see it as essentially optimistic, reassuring, and conservative. James Kendrick takes an alternate view of Spielberg's cinema and proposes that his films-even the most popular ones that seem to trade in easy answers and comforting, reassuring notions of cohesion and narrative resolution-are significantly darker and more emotionally and ideologically complex than they are routinely given credit for. Darkness in the Bliss-Out demonstrates, through close analysis of a wide range of Spielberg's films, that they are only reassuring on the surface, and that their depths embody a complex and sometimes contradictory view of the human condition.