Renegotiating the National Past after 9/11

David Martin-Jones

in Deleuze, Cinema and National Identity

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2006 | ISBN: 9780748622443
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651085 | DOI:
Renegotiating the National Past after 9/11

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After 9/11, North American cinema's construction of national identity took on a slightly different relationship to the past. In many ways, the attack enabled American cinema to continue to propagate a triumphal narrative, and in particular necessitated a reexamination of the recent past. Many films produced or released since 9/11 allegorically relive this trauma in order to work through national loss. This chapter focuses on the movement-image Terminator 3 to illustrate how this dominant view of national identity is constructed. It then explores how certain independent films have deterritorialised this prevailing tendency, focusing on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), a film that smuggles in a political critique through its use of flashback and character memory. Eternal Sunshine is a time-image ‘caught in the act’ of becoming a movement-image. The film's protagonists determine that if they can avert the trauma this time they can break out of the vicious cycle of triumphalism, a cycle rendered in the film as the actions of brainwashed automatons.

Keywords: 9/11; cinema; triumphalism; national identity; Terminator 3; Eternal Sunshine; character memory; time-image; movement-image; trauma

Chapter.  14167 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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