Classicalpostclassical Chapter

Contrary to the claims that, with regard to contemporary American cinema, it is 'business as usual', but also contrary to the claim that we must assume a radical break between classical cinema (that of the 1920s to the 1960s), and the mainstream Hollywood product of the past two decades, the chapter has tried to demonstrate that we are here dealing in many ways with a false opposition. The problem of the classical/postclassical is rather like a crystal: it occupies several dimensions and can be turned in different directions, each time revealing a configuration that marks both the differences and the similarities, both the continuities and the breaks. Our conclusion was that the post-classical, quite correctly, still contains the term 'classical', but that in relation to the classical it is both 'reflexive' and 'excessive', and therefore can neither be situated conceptually in a linear, progressive, chronological line nor pictured as a dialectical or directly antagonist relationship.

• Die Hard seemed to prove this point by being perfectly readable as a classically constructed Hollywood film. Yet what made it interesting and exciting was the often ingenious and always knowing way it actually staged and celebrated this carefully crafted classicism, by teasing (or irritating) its critics with sustained bouts of verbal, visual, and ideological transgressiveness.

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