Tim Burton and the Ideology of the Flying Saucer Movie
Chapter Four analyzes Tim Burton's film Mars Attacks! in relation to the classic flying saucer movies of the 1950s. During the Cold War, alien invasion narratives asked viewers to put their faith in the federal government. Ordinary Americans were shown to panic in the face of flying saucers, and only a combination of political, military, and scientific elites could save the United States. Mars Attacks! reverses this ideological position. It shows Washington elites to be self-serving and self-absorbed, and incapable of dealing with a crisis, while ordinary people manage to band together to defeat the invaders in haphazard but effective ways. The chapter compares Burton's vision to Alexis de Tocqueville's idea of the importance of local associations in American life. The chapter concludes by discussing Burton as a peculiar form of film auteur.
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