Through the Lenses of Hollywood: depictions of Terrorism in American Movies

Thomas Riegler


This article argues that Hollywood cinema has shaped, and sometimes distorted, the perception of terrorism since the late 1960s. It does so by discussing emblematic movies in a comparative way. The main thesis is that Hollywood never seriously tried to offer an accurate assessment of terrorism. Instead, it offered a mediated version that transcends reality and is firmly rooted in a pop culture framework. Nonetheless, since movies are, according to cinema theorist Siegfried Kracauer, a "mirror of the prevailing society", they too reveal something about the historical evolution of terrorism and modifications in its understanding. Another issue briefly addressed is the question whether "real" terrorists tend to re-enact or copy (cinema)"reel" violence – given the fact that terrorists too are subject to the influence of cinematic images and metaphors.

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Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

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