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Cycnos | Volume 21 n°2

The Last Stand : Le champ de bataille sur grand écran

In American iconography and literature the myth of the Last Stand is part and parcel of an often desperate attachment to the integrity of one’s territory, be it national or personal. “To stand one’s ground” is a requisite in the initiation into citizenship among the heirs to Bunker Hill, Andrew Jackson’s victory over the British in the battle of New Orleans in 1815, the Alamo in 1836 and Little Big Horn in 1876. The ideal of “no retreat”, sometimes at the cost of one’s life, is exemplified in the most painful episodes of World War II. The Vietnam War marked a new phase in American society when the counterculture revisited etiological myths to negate the significance of history thus likened to a deceitful discourse. Two movies separated by three decades, They Died with their Boots on and Little Big Man, illustrate shifting attitudes toward Custer’s Last Stand, depending on Hollywood’s allegorical, often time-serving, treatment of contemporary issues.

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