Act of Violence: Articulating the Spaces of Modernity

  • Nathaniel DeyoEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Close Readings in Film and Television book series (CRFT)


In this chapter, I analyze the ways in which Fred Zinnemann’s Act of Violence engages with the spatial and geographic politics of postwar America. Specifically, I analyze its treatment of suburban development and the consequent degradation of older inner cities and urban cores, arguing that the film works to puncture the myth of the suburbs as a bucolic idyll and to challenge the ideological foundations upon which that myth is built. It does so, I argue, by stressing the imbrication of its primary suburban setting within larger spatial and geographic systems, and by revealing repressed histories of violence lying beneath the apparently placid surface of suburban life. In developing this analysis, the chapter also shows how the film anticipates the slasher film cycle of the 1970s and 1980s with respect to both aesthetic and thematic concerns. These arguments are framed within a larger meta-critical discussion that centers on debates around practices of symptomatic reading and other related interpretation strategies in academic cultural studies.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MiamiCoral GablesUSA

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