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(p.153) Chapter Four Decolonization
Monsters in the Machine
Steffen Hantke
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines the issue of Cold War decolonization in films that chose the global sphere as their setting. Films like Richard Fleischer's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Irwin Allen's The Lost World (1960), and Ib Melchior's The Time Travelers (1964) testify to the science fiction film's interest in placing American travelers in postcolonial locations. Starting in the late 1950s and gaining momentum in the early 1960s, this trend was infused with new eagerness by the Kennedy administration's foreign initiatives (from the space program to the Peace Corps). Superficially, these films demonstrate that US intervention in the Third World is called for and legitimate whenever Soviet influence appears as a rival or counterforce to American attempts to gain allies or secure markets. However, upon closer inspection, some of these films also make room for an alternative reading of Cold War history. They acknowledge that the US must sometimes confront a danger more insidious than Soviet communism—political non-alignment driven by “economic nationalism.”

Keywords:   science fiction films, American films, Cold War decolonization, Cold War history, economic nationalism

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