Introduction: ‘Where are we, and how did we get here?’

Lisa Purse

in Contemporary Action Cinema

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780748638178
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670857 | DOI:
Introduction: ‘Where are we, and how did we get here?’

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The chapter explores the challenges in defining action cinema as a popular form, given its inherent genre hybridity. It suggests that the action film creates fantasies of empowerment which combine a persistent, detailed and spectacularised attention to the exerting body with thematic preoccupations with national mythology and the working through of socio-cultural anxieties. The chapter emphasises the importance of historicising contemporary action cinema while also being alert to its relationship to the cultural, industrial and artistic ‘moment’ in which it is produced. Post-1990s action cinema is located in its historical, social and artistic contexts through two case study films from roughly each end of the decade – The Matrix and Live Free or Die Hard.

Keywords: Action cinema; definition; Genre; Genre hybridity; Fantasy of empowerment; National mythology; Socio-cultural anxieties; Production contexts

Chapter.  8918 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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