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Film NationHollywood Looks at U.S. History, Revised Edition$
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Robert Burgoyne

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780816642915

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816642915.001.0001

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Native America, Thunderheart, and the National Imaginary

Native America, Thunderheart, and the National Imaginary

(p.38) 2 Native America, Thunderheart, and the National Imaginary
Film Nation

Robert Burgoyne

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter focuses on the film Thunderheart as an example of the changing image of Native Americans in the “national imaginary” of the nation-state. Native Americans have emerged in contemporary films as agents of a powerful counternarrative of nation, and bearers of an alternative historical and national consciousness molded and shaped by centuries of relentless war. Thunderheart’s opening sequence visually expresses the theme of the continuous struggle against the nation-state, which creates a reversal of the territorial imaginary of the state. The chapter then observes how the film draws on what Mikhail Bakhtin calls the genre memory of the western, historically one of the nation-state’s most important vehicles of nationalist ideology.

Keywords:   Thunderheart, Native Americans, national imaginary, contemporary films, counternarrative, territorial imaginary, Bakhtin, genre memory

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