The cinema of Oliver Stone

Art, authorship and activism

Ian Scott
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Henry Thompson
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This book charts and analyses the work of Oliver Stone – arguably one of the foremost political filmmakers in Hollywood during the last thirty years. Drawing on previously unseen production files from Oliver Stone’s personal archives and hours of interviews both with Stone and a range of present and former associates within the industry, the book employs a thematic structure to explore Stone’s life and work in terms of war, politics, money, love and corporations. This allows the authors both to provide a synthesis of earlier and later film work as well as locate that work within Stone’s developing critique of government. The book explores the development of aesthetic changes in Stone’s filmmaking and locates those changes within ongoing academic debates about the relationship between film and history as well as wider debates about Hollywood and the film industry. All of this is explored with detailed reference to the films themselves and related to a set of wider concerns that Stone has sought to grapple with -the American Century, exceptionalism and the American Dream, global empire, government surveillance and corporate accountability. The book concludes with a perspective on Stone’s ‘brand’ as not just an auteur and commercially viable independent filmmaker but as an activist arguing for a very distinct kind of American exceptionalism that seeks a positive role for the US globally whilst eschewing military adventurism.


‘A wonderful, bracing book, Scott and Thompson have brought exemplary clarity and thoroughness to the complex and multifaceted career of Oliver Stone. Dividing Stone's work into major themes such as War, Money, and Love, the authors provide a focused exploration of the critical intelligence that permeates all of the filmmaker's work -- and the political thinking that informs it. Full of insights, this beautifully written book is a major contribution to the literature of film.'
Robert Burgoyne
Chair in Film Studies, University of St Andrews. Author of Film Nation: Hollywood Looks at US History
August 2016

‘Oliver Stone has cast greater light on late-twentieth and early twenty-first century America than any other movie-maker. In this incisive, erudite, and very well conceived volume, Ian Scott and Henry Thompson offer a nuanced and thematic analysis of Stone's cinematic importance and with the benefit of their numerous interviews with him – his understanding of the United States and its place in the world. Well-written and deeply researched, this fine book is a major contribution to film studies and should also be read by anyone interested in America's recent past and current politics.'
Iwan Morgan
Commonwealth Fund Professor of American History, University College London. Author of Reagan: American Icon
August 2016

‘The Cinema of Oliver Stone is a fascinating examination of one of the most important political filmmakers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Ian Scott and Henry Thompson offer telling insights into how Stone's films altered the ways in which audiences have thought about war, politics, money, love and corporations. This is must reading for anyone interested in the intersection of Hollywood and politics.'
Steven J. Ross author of Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics.
September 2016

‘The Cinema of Oliver Stone: Art, Authorship and Activism is a remarkable and timely book on one of the key American directors of the second half of the twentieth century. With its unparalleled access to the film-maker and his archive, its lucid and comprehensive engagement with both the films and the political context in which they were made, the project emerges as not only the definitive book on Oliver Stone but also one of the most compelling books on American film in the last decade.'
Terence McSweeney
Visiting Research Fellow at the Rothermere American Institute at the University of Oxford. Author of The 'War on Terror' and American Film: 9/11 Frames Per Second
August 2016

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