Lone Star

“The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.”
John Sayles film, Lone Star, is about crossing borders, challenging the past, and dealing with the burden of history in both the personal and the public sphere. Painted on a very broad canvas, Lone Star is an epic film touching on many themes, including racism, illegal immigration, the corruption of government and law enforcement, racial identity, multicultural education, and the endurance of love.
History casts a very long shadow over the border town of Frontera, and as the characters wrestle with the past and unearth its secrets (both literally and figuratively), the action glides seamlessly between past and present. The past doesn’t just haunt the present in this film, it is a vital force shaping identity, both individual and collective. How it represented-in the classroom, in memory, in the history books and in the stories told in the local barroom-has everything to do with the conflicts and power struggles that dominate life in Frontera in the present moment.
These essays address questions of history and narrative, exploring the issue of representation and focusing on the ways in which “official” knowledge can eradicate, distort, deny or suppress other ways of knowing the past. I will look at the way in which the past is embedded in the present and defined by the present. I will discuss some epistemological questions raised by the movie and by the issues of narrative, historiography and “truth.”I look at the question of borders and the transgression of borders, migration, identity and the frontier, and I conclude with a discussion of the question of agency in Lone Star.
“Every journey into the past is complicated by delusions, false memories, false namings of real events.”
Lone Star is an epic film with a complex plot and a number of sub-plots. I will give only a brief summary of the plot here, identifying the key characters, highlighting the main conflict and briefly discu…

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