PROJECTING THE SHADOW: The Cyborg Hero in American Film by Janice Hocker & Thomas S. Frentz Rushing

PROJECTING THE SHADOW: The Cyborg Hero in American Film

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Iron John goes to Hollywood in this confused and tedious examination of the hunter and the hunted in six modern films: The Manchurian Candidate, The Deer Hunter, Jaws, Blade Runner, and the two Terminators. Rushing and Frentz, communications professors at the University of Arkansas, seem interested in these films only as a justification for a hodgepodge of pontifications on life, the universe, and everything. Their thesis, insofar as it exists, concerns the replacement of the archetypal Indian hunt by the technological hunt. In their view, technology causes the hunter's weapons to take on a life of their own until they eventually turn against the hunter himself. This hopped-up restatement of the Frankenstein stoW becomes, in Rushing and Frentz's hands, an almost indigestible Joseph Campbell's soup of myth, Jungian analysis, and Anthropology 101. As they proclaim, ""If films are to a large extent public dreams, then our role as critics is similar to that of the depth analyst; to interpret how the film as collective dream provides a picture of the cultural unconscious."" So bewitched are they by their voodoo film criticism that they invariably fail to invoke essential authorities outside their narrow congeries. For example, they discuss the idea of frontier at great length without once mentioning its originator, Frederick Jackson Turner. But, then, this book is only grudgingly about rational film analysis. Rushing and Frentz seem much happier soap-boxing away about spirituality, the men's movement, and their derivative panacea for fin-de-si≤cle malaise--transmodernism (postmodernism made warm and snuggly). But scatter enough critical darts, and you are bound to hit something. The authors can claim credit for at least a handful of good ideas or sound critical perceptions, particularly their analysis of The Deer Hunter's deep mythic roots. In the end, the only real monster to be found is the one Rushing and Frentz have so carelessly brought to life.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1995
ISBN: 0226731677
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago