The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition

By E. Christian Kopff | Go to book overview
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Chapter XX
ARMS AND THE MAN:
CLINT EASTWOOD AS HERO
AND FILMMAKER

A nation lives by its myths and heroes. Many societies have survived defeat and invasion, even political and economic collapse. None has survived the corruption of its picture of itself. High and popular art are not in competition here. Both may help citizens decide what they are and what they admire. In our age, however, high art has given up speaking to the body of its fellow citizens. It devotes itself to technical displays that can appeal only to other technicians.

In the days of the great studios, Hollywood attempted to express a national feeling. This effort collapsed with the decline of the studio system in the 60s. (It is striking how many watchable films, along with a few masterpieces, the old system produced compared with the dated products of the 60s.) Yet the 60s did produce one filmmaker committed to films that both succeed as popular entertainment and speak to the American people.

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The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition
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