Spies like us? : An analysis of six 1980s spy films and the images they presented about the Cold War
Date of Award
Honors Thesis (Open Access)
Colby College. History Dept.
"Let us not be deceived--we are today in the midst of a cold war. Our enemies are to be found abroad and at home. Let us never forget this: Our unrest is the heart of their success. The peace of the world is the hope and goal of our political system; it is the despair and defeat of those who stand against us" (Platt 48) . This passage was part of a speech delivered by Bernard M. Baruch before the South Carolina state legislature on April 16, 1947. The speech is significant because in using the term 'cold war,' Baruch became the first individual publicly to name the era which dominated the United States over the following four decades (Platt 48-9) . Baruch's speech is also significant because he succeeded in identifying certain aspects of the national psyche. Words like deceived, unrest, peace, hope, and despair articulate some of the emotions Americans felt about the Cold War during the 43 years that followed his speech. This paper will interpret the nation's attitude towards the Cold War during one of those decades, the 1980s. The interpretation will rely upon the images presented in six spy films which include Octopussy (1983), Never Say Never Again (1983), The Falcon and the Snowman ( 1985), A View to a Kill (1986), No Way Out (1987) and The Hunt for Red October (1990). Each of these films presents images of U.S. superiority, yet, in no case is an American spy living in the United States the hero of the film. Rather, a group of 'outside agents' served as outlets for expressing American fantasies about the Cold War. Examining the symbolic meaning of these outside agents will ultimately show that the United States' perception of the Cold War during the 1980s was a curious mixture of both superiority and skepticism. This mixture is largely a product of four ingredients which make up each film: women, Russians, technology and spying. The United States' inability to reach some consensus about the proper roles of these ingredients ultimately resulted in the films' presentation of a skeptical superiority.
Spy films -- History and criticism, Motion pictures -- History and criticism, Nineteen eighties, Feature films
Recommended CitationBologna, Jason, "Spies like us? : An analysis of six 1980s spy films and the images they presented about the Cold War" (1994). Honors Theses. Paper 37.
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