Publication: “The Privatisation of Justice in American Conspiracy Film”
Film International (2019, volume 17, issue 1; print)
For a genre dedicated to calling out abuses of power and protecting the interests of the public, the transformation of traditional conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s to the privatised narratives of the late 1980s/1990s comes not as a surprise, but at a cost in the political force of modern conspiracy thrillers. In the course of 50 years, the nature of justice in these films has been recast in the reflections of their corresponding cultural landscapes, which I trace in three phases: first, overtly political, with great value attributed to notions of truth, justice and morality; then, deeply personal, with sanctity of the family, protecting one’s livelihood, or reaching self-discovery taking priority over the public good. In the years following 9/11, when political abuses of power re-entered the public consciousness, conspiracy films attempted to return to their politically forceful roots but have yet to reconcile twenty years of solipsistic, greed-fuelled narratives with the growing cynicism of the public towards conspiracy films’ iconic pillars of justice: the media and the law.
About the journal:
Film International started in 1973 as Filmhäftet in Sweden and has through the years recruited contributors among the most distinguished scholars and journalists around the world. The journal refuses the facile dichotomies of ‘high’ and ‘low’, Hollywood and independent, art and commercial cinema, discussing Hollywood films seriously, and ‘art’ movies critically.
“Mathewson projects a thought-provoking dystopia and raises poignant questions about our current relationship with the environment in this accomplished short”