Ian Scott
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Betrayed (1988) and the ruptures of race and religion
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Costa-Gavras in Betrayed challenged and undermined that harmony by exposing the hold the ‘paranoid tradition’ has in America, which Richard Hofstadter had written about over two decades beforehand. Betrayed is deeply prophetic in that sense, then, and not only because it anticipated a series of films in the 1990s and 2000s – from American History X (1998) and Fight Club (1999) to The Believer (2001) and Imperium (2016) – that toyed with and/or explicitly conveyed angry white male/neo-Nazi/ supremacist imagery and ideology. This chapter traces the historical roots of Betrayed’s story and its director’s American career. In doing so, it argues for a film of contextual significance in a profoundly changing Hollywood landscape of the 1980s (cinematically and industrially), as well as Betrayed’s contemporary relevance for the issues of racism, extremism and political commentary at large, in society and on screen.

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