nostalgia for the present

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Fredric Jameson (b. 1934)


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Fredric Jameson's apparently paradoxical formulation naming the attraction of the spectacle of the presence in the here and now of the past that certain films seem to provide. His key exhibit is the Lawrence Kasdan film Body Heat (1981), starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner. Jameson notes that although it is set in present-day Florida, it is filmed in such a way that all markers of contemporaneity are obscured, giving rise to the illusion the actual time of the film is the 1940s, the period from which its technicolour version of film noir mise-en-scène is borrowed. It is this desire for the present of previous films that is central to the concept. A more recent example of nostalgia for the present in cinema would be Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong (2005), which depicts the glamorous ‘present’ of 1930s New York.

Further Reading:

I. Buchanan Fredric Jameson: Live Theory (2006).C. Burnham The Jamesonian Unconscious: The Aesthetics of Marxist Theory (1995).F. Jameson Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991).

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.

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