Thursday, September 1, 2016
Contesting History – The Films of Oliver Stone
"Regarded as a politically radical firebrand nearly as often as he’s discussed for his filmmaking, Oliver Stone is one of the monolithic voices of contemporary Hollywood—a figure about whom opinion tends to be divided starkly between derision and adulation, with little room for ambivalence in between. As a veteran of the Vietnam War whose Bronze Star and Purple Heart belie a profound disillusionment with his experience there, Stone has spent a considerable chunk of his directorial career depicting the events of the 1960s and 70s, paying particular attention to the ways in which the era’s tensions and contradictions act as barometers for more enduring problems in American politics. His overarching thesis as a filmmaker—that passive faith in one’s nation leaves one blind to the fact that the interconnected forces of government and national media construct digestible narratives for their citizenry in ways that protect their own interests—doubles as a call to action, which therefore brands Stone as an activist working within the entertainment business, a perch from which he wields a rare influence."
The Harvard Film Archive is hosting a small survey of Oliver Stone's political filmmaking this fall. They generously asked me to contribute the introduction and, with the exception of the blurb on Snowden, all of the program notes for the series, which can be viewed here.