Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Driving Visions

Driving Visions

  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Driving Visions
    Book Description:

    From the visionary rebellion ofEasy Riderto the reinvention of home inThe Straight Story,the road movie has emerged as a significant film genre since the late 1960s, able to cut across a wide variety of film styles and contexts. Yet, within the variety, a certain generic core remains constant: the journey as cultural critique, as exploration beyond society and within oneself.

    This book traces the generic evolution of the road movie with respect to its diverse presentations, emphasizing it as an "independent genre" that attempts to incorporate marginality and subversion on many levels. David Laderman begins by identifying the road movie's defining features and by establishing the literary, classical Hollywood, and 1950s highway culture antecedents that formatively influenced it. He then traces the historical and aesthetic evolution of the road movie decade by decade through detailed and lively discussions of key films. Laderman concludes with a look at the European road movie, from the late 1950s auteurs through Godard and Wenders, and at compelling feminist road movies of the 1980s and 1990s.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79814-4
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
    (pp. viii-xii)
  4. Chapter 1 PAVING THE WAY Sources and Features of the Road Movie
    (pp. 1-42)

    They have been driving for days through the desert, with little sleep. They want to get to Mexico. The police have been relentlessly pursuing them. Yet they are more desperately fleeing their own oppressive society: hard labor at cheap wages, a prisonlike domestic life, verbal and physical abuse, a legal system that presumes them guilty. Crossing numerous state lines, they have likewise crossed into an altered state of perception. Driving, they have rediscovered themselves; they have been reborn, aided by the midwife of their desperate journey. Transcending mere friendship or romance, they are now buddies, comrades, soul mates.

    But they...

  5. Chapter 2 BLAZING THE TRAIL Visionary Rebellion and the Late-1960s Road Movie
    (pp. 43-81)

    In many ways, the road movie lights out for its own territory, forging its own distinct generic identity, through the critical and commercial success of two New American independent trailblazers:Bonnie and Clyde(1967) andEasy Rider(1969). Propelled in spirit and theme by the visionary rebellion of the counterculture, both films remake the classical into the New Hollywood by embracing the liberation of life on the road.Bonnie and Clydecelebrates fugitive mobility as a sensual and subversive thrill. At the same time, Clyde’s entrepreneurial gangsterism and Bonnie’s domestic yearnings illustrate the genre’s intrinsic process of heading off such...

  6. Chapter 3 DRIFTING ON EMPTY Existential Irony and the Early-1970s Road Movie
    (pp. 82-131)

    Bonnie and ClydeandEasy Ridershould be viewed as the genre-defining origin of the contemporary road movie, not only for the various ways they elaborate road travel, and not only for the way this elaboration reflects the countercultural, New American independent film sensibility. They also are truly watershed films, to which can be traced most road movies comprising the genre’s first wave, roughly between 1967 and 1975. That is,Bonnie and ClydeandEasy Riderconstitute what Schatz calls a genre’s ‘‘experimental stage,’’ where the road movie’s ‘‘conventions are isolated and established.’’ The early-70s road movies appearing in their...

  7. Chapter 4 BLURRING THE BOUNDARIES The 1980s Postmodern Road Movie
    (pp. 132-174)

    The road movie fizzles out in the mid-1970s, perhaps the inevitable destination of its existential meandering, but also probably a result of being driven off the road by the conservative convoy of New Hollywood blockbusters during the latter part of the decade. Several Hollywood road comedies appear, among themSmokey and the Bandit(1977),Convoy(1978),Bronco Billy(1980),Cannonball Run(1981),Honky Tonk Man(1982), andNational Lampoon’s Vacation(1983). In my view, most road movie comedies, especially of the Hollywood variety, do not incorporate any visionary rebellion, and in fact do not really emphasize road travel. Not coincidentally,...

  8. Chapter 5 REBUILDING THE ENGINE The 1990s Multicultural Road Movie
    (pp. 175-246)

    Into the 1990s, the road movie gathers considerable momentum, putting more miles on the cinematic highway than ever before—in a plethora of directions, through a diverse array of landscapes, with a multiplicity of multicultural drivers. It is perhaps no accident that this road movie boom coincides with the economic boom of the Clinton era, especially considering the administration’s enthusiastic discourse about ‘‘crossing into’’ the next millennium, ‘‘bridging’’ the twenty-first century. According to Clintonian rhetoric, and most economic analysts, the primary ‘‘engine’’ for the economic prosperity of the 1990s was computer technology.

    Popular cultural discourse in turn describes the booming...

  9. Chapter 6 TRAVELING OTHER HIGHWAYS The European Road Movie
    (pp. 247-282)

    Let us conclude our journey through the history of the American road movie as many of these films themselves close: by embarking on a new journey. To be sure, this is no conclusion at all, but rather a provocation to follow a new road through a new landscape. In the spirit of the genre, then, our critical survey ends with an open-ended continuation of our exploration in Europe.

    Such exploration helps to ‘‘define’’ the genre by way of contrast with the formative American version. In venturing to Europe, we can more lucidly appreciate the cultural specificity of the genre’s American...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 283-296)
    (pp. 297-302)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 303-322)