History Films, Women, and Freud's Uncanny

By Susan E. Linville | Go to book overview

Epilogue
9/11

The attacks of September 11, 2001, are, in an important sense, the definitive uncanny events of recent American history, given their eerie echoes of numerous disaster movies, their culprits’ identities that mirror the archetypal villains of recent Hollywood cinema, and their replay, again and again, for television viewers the world over. On March 10, 2002, according to a report on France 2 television, 39 million Americans also watched the initial airing on CBS of 9/11, a documentary directed by two French brothers, Jules and Gédéon Naudet, and American James Hanlon, a veteran New York City fireman, about the attack six months earlier that destroyed the World Trade Center and, along with it, the lives of thousands of people from around the world and hundreds of public-safety officials. The Naudets’ original intent had been to document the experiences of a rookie fireman, or, as Gédéon explains in the video, “to show how a kid becomes a man in nine months,” the probationary period served by rookie fire fighters—“probies,” as they are called. It was a project that, not entirely unlike the study that I set forth in this present text, was overtaken by events that its makers could not have anticipated.

My far more modest project has been to chart a series of cinematic representations of U.S. history created in the closing decade of the twentieth century—films whose subjects move from World War II, to the cold war, to the techno-warfare and globalization of the 1990s. Simultaneously, I have sought to uncover the films’ unheimlich dimensions, especially as these serve both to reveal and to veil women’s lives and experiences. Although my study ends with films released in 1999, the production of history-based Hollywood films did not, of course, stop in that year, and neither did the themes and patterns examined in the preceding chapters. For example, combat-film releases in 2001–2002 include the history-based Behind Enemy

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