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Organized Film Discussions => Previous Film Discussions => Topic started by: Matt on June 27, 2004, 10:45:49 AM

Title: THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT: The Story 3: Decline of America & Traditional Values
Post by: Matt on June 27, 2004, 10:45:49 AM
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RED: Kids. They don't believe in anything anymore.

Director Michael Cimino said he wanted to show a certain picture of America in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. Richard Schickel, in his biography Clint Eastwood, says (p. 306):

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Aside from its tragic denouement, the film sounds like a fairly routine action piece. But the plotline--stretched between the opening sequence in the near-moribund church and the near-closing one in the disused school, both symbolizing the decline of traditional institutions--is not the point. The life of this wayward movie is to be found in its excursions away from its main line, all of which suggest that nothing in America is what it once was, or, perhaps one should say, what we once, in deluded confidence, thought it was.


What do you think Michael Cimino is trying to say about America and traditional institutions in this film? List some examples that you see to support this.
Title: Re:THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT: The Story 3: Decline of America & Traditional Valu
Post by: Agent on July 07, 2004, 01:51:37 PM
Perhaps Cimino's saying that America, i.e. the traditional institutions the country was built on, are just a facade these days, more or less being used as stepping stones or purposes never intended to in that manner. And this was 30 years ago.

Some recent examples:

A crooked judge using the system to free the criminal and persecute the cop. One recent case they busted a lady judge sneaking out a criminal out the back door of the courthouse.

Someone becoming an ordained priest so he can be close to young boys.

Gang members who join the military just to get their hands on prime weapons to distribute among fellow gang members on the outside. This has happened.

And on and on...
Title: Re:THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT: The Story 3: Decline of America & Traditional Valu
Post by: KC on July 07, 2004, 06:02:27 PM
Agent, we were actually looking for examples in the film, but thanks for supplying the examples from real life. ;)
Title: Re:THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT: The Story 3: Decline of America & Traditional Valu
Post by: Agent on July 08, 2004, 07:30:35 AM
The only incidents I can think of in the movie are all presented in a humorous vein (with the main characters, or ‘heroes,’ committing them), so it’s hard to take any of them seriously, or reflect on the “declining of America and tradtional values.” All the examples I can think of in the movie are pretty innocent....at least compared to today. But ones that come to mind are:

When Thunderbolt is using a church, as well as a naïve congregation, for his own purposes – mainly as a cover to protect his own hide.

Lightfoot conning the car salesman and driving off with the car.

The young couple making whoopee under their parent’s roof.

The schoolhouse being used as a money stash.


Cimino seems to be a pretty inscrutable individual, as far as his objectives, or points he's trying to make, i.e,  the long debate we all had in the past about his underlying theme concerning Thunderbolt & Lightfoot. On the surface though, it's a good, light movie. If there's anything heavy or sublime he's trying to project to the audience - I think he fails....it's a message unto himself.
Title: Re:THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT: The Story 3: Decline of America & Traditional Valu
Post by: Matt on July 08, 2004, 09:02:39 PM
Good points, Agent.

For what it's worth, we didn't do a separate topic on the subtext of this film that inspired one of the longest debates in the history of this board...  not because we didn't want to discuss it, but because we didn't want it to be the focus of this film discussion. We've never had any other discussion about Thunderbolt and Lightfoot as long as I've been a member here other than that one, and we felt there was more to discuss about this film that that. But if anyone would like to discuss whether or not they believe there's a gay subtext in this film, then feel free to introduce it in this thread, or in the "themes" thread, or even in the thread about the relationship between Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.

My thoughts on the subtext... well, I agree with what Agent said in his post above...

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If there's anything heavy or sublime he's trying to project to the audience - I think he fails....it's a message unto himself.

Title: Re:THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT: The Story 3: Decline of America & Traditional Valu
Post by: vik on July 24, 2004, 03:44:58 PM
i didn't see any decline in any values as such

i liked the comparison between the new school and old
and then all the motors are pretty old until you get thunderbolts brand new one at the end as if he was the winner
Title: Re: THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT: The Story 3: Decline of America & Traditional Val
Post by: mgk on January 30, 2005, 05:58:36 PM
Thanks to everyone for participating in this discussion. This topic is now closed, please post any additional thoughts in the General Discussion forum.
Title: Re: THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT: The Story 3: Decline of America & Traditional Values
Post by: The Schofield Kid on April 22, 2013, 06:55:17 PM
Thanks, everyone! This thread is now locked.  Please post any additional thoughts you have on this topic in the General Discussion forum.