Film Ideology: Idealism, Cynicism

In classic Hollywood cinema, the initial cynicism of the hero or heroine are eventually and ultimately dispelled in the name of a new restored idealism.

This is the case of Bogart’s hero in Casablanca and of William Holden in Stalag 17.

The one exception to the norm is the genre of film noir, which thrives on cynicism.

Then, in the 1970s, the new cynical hero appear in the shape of Jack Nicholson.

But cynicism for its own good and in its own right is never celebrated or embraced.

In the popular disaster movie, Earthquake, the whole film, not just the characters are jaded and cynical.  At the end, when the hero (played by Charlton Heston), is cynically trashed along with the heroine–and the rest of L.A.–the audience is amused in a state of disbelief.  Like all the heroes, the viewers never get seriously involved in the story to get really upset at the sight of cynical destruction.

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