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American Cinema of the 2000s

Themes and Variations

Edited by Timothy Corrigan

Publication Year: 2012

The decade from 2000 to 2009 is framed, at one end, by the traumatic catastrophe of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and, at the other, by the election of the first African American president of the United States. In between, the United States and the world witnessed the rapid expansion of new media and the Internet, such natural disasters as Hurricane Katrina, political uprisings around the world, and a massive meltdown of world economies.

Amid these crises and revolutions, American films responded in multiple ways, sometimes directly reflecting these turbulent times, and sometimes indirectly couching history in traditional genres and stories. In American Cinema of the 2000s, essays from ten top film scholars examine such popular series as the groundbreaking Matrix films and the gripping adventures of former CIA covert operative Jason Bourne; new, offbeat films like Juno; and the resurgence of documentaries like Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.  Each essay demonstrates the complex ways in which American culture and American cinema are bound together in subtle and challenging ways.

Published by: Rutgers University Press


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pp. c-c

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xiv

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pp. 1-18

In 1968, Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey eerily en visioned a new millennium obsessively driven by technology and violence. Before the arrival of that millennium, Kubrick’s film described an epic space journey that begins with the prehistoric discovery of crude weapons that would develop and drive human history through many centuries...

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pp. 19-39

When North Americans awoke on 1 January after a night of partying and celebration to usher in the new millennium, there was an almost audible sigh of relief as they drank their coffee, cleared their foggy (and in some cases pounding) heads, and turned on their computers. Home pages reflecting the accurate date and time opened, records and documents...

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pp. 40-60

Though no one knew it as January dawned, this was the year that will forever be divided into Before and After by the events of 9/11. Yet 9/11 was only a brief moment in the stories of the year. George W. Bush was sworn in as president in January, succeeding Bill Clinton; Wikipedia was launched. In April the first space tourist went into orbit. Many terrorist...

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pp. 61-82

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks on different U.S. sites by al- Qaeda terrorists, it may have seemed to many Americans that, for the first time since Pearl Harbor or the Cuban missile crisis, violent history had come to us. It had been more common in the post–World War II period that our aggressive participation had shaped world events elsewhere. The attack on...

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pp. 83-103

On 20 March, the nighttime skies over Baghdad lit up as cruise missiles and bunker-buster bombs blasted locations where Saddam Hussein was rumored to be hiding. The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq had begun, with a spectacular display of might designed to quickly and decisively undermine the enemy’s will to fight back. It was the world’s first taste of a...

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pp. 104-124

The wide spectrum of films produced this year feature pure escapist entertainment, earnest political documentaries, family-friendly cartoons and animated fare, dazzling visual effects often with state-of-the-art computer-generated imagery (CGI), and biopics, among others. By far, according to Box Office Mojo’s “2004 Domestic Grosses,” the overwhelming...

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pp. 125-146

The first of January marked the passing of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to be elected to Congress, the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, and the first major-party black candidate for the U.S. presidency. As this pioneer left the stage, George W. Bush was about to commence the second term of his ill-fated presidency....

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pp. 147-171

Those Americans concerned about human contribution to global warming had ample opportunity this year to reflect upon carbon emissions. January began with Sydney, Australia, experiencing record temperatures while the Atlantic’s worst hurricane season expired. December ended with the Met Office reporting England’s warmest year since...

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pp. 172-193

Exhausted after playing tennis on their new Christmas Wii game consoles, a few Americans stayed in to celebrate the New Year, logging on, for the first time, to YouTube. Forget Yahtzee and Scrabble: the video interactive website, recently acquired by Google, contained inventive narrative shorts and video clips, providing a double click to media fun....

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pp. 194-215

The defining event of the year was of course the economic recession, which began in the United States with the collapse of several mammoth Wall Street firms and quickly became a global crisis. But while the recession devastated the American economy and left many major industries in chaos, it had remarkably little effect on the movie industry—...

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pp. 216-238

It is a perhaps inevitable and unavoidable temptation for the historian writing about any specific year to argue that his/her chosen slice of time was somehow especially meaningful and consequential: loaded with events that decisively altered the flow of time from then on. As the title of a book published in the year under consideration here would have...

2000 – 2009

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pp. 239-244

Works Cited and Consulted

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pp. 245-252


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pp. 253-254


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pp. 255-274

E-ISBN-13: 9780813553238
E-ISBN-10: 0813553237
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813552811
Print-ISBN-10: 0813552818

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 33 photographs
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 784885425
MUSE Marc Record: Download for American Cinema of the 2000s

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Motion pictures -- United States -- History -- 21st century.
  • Motion pictures -- United States -- Plots, themes, etc.
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