Dystopia, Apocalypse, Culture War: 2018 or 1968?Breaking News
In 1968, the world went up in flames, the auteur theory ignited debate, parental guidance at the movies was suggested, women in film were on the verge of a breakthrough, flesh-eating zombies hit the screen and American movies went to war (again). The world was watching, and the world was changing.
Fifty years later, it can sometimes feel as if we are living in the sequel, or at least some kind of weird dystopian reboot. The collective memory of 1968 is a blend of romance and apocalypse, nostalgia and trauma. In April, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and cities across the country soon erupted. Two months later Robert F. Kennedy was also killed. Before the year was out, Soviet tanks rolled into Prague, rioting broke out during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and student demonstrators were massacred in Mexico City.
That same year, one of us also saw “Planet of the Apes” at the Academy of Music theater on 14th Street in Manhattan. Because, amid the murders and the fires, people also went to the movies, which offered a warped mirror and a cracked window on the world. Filmgoers watched Steve McQueen burning rubber in “Bullitt” on the streets of San Francisco; they freaked out at the mysteries of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” They saw “The Odd Couple,” “Romeo & Juliet,” “The Love Bug,” and they also watched Rosalind Russell play a nun who comes face to face with the counterculture in “Where Angels Go … Trouble Follows.” Trouble followed the movies to the Cannes Film Festival, where protests shut the event down.
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