Rumble and Crash

Crises of Capitalism in Contemporary Film

By Milo Sweedler

Subjects: Film Studies, Cultural Studies, American Studies, Economy And Society
Series: SUNY series, Horizons of Cinema
Hardcover : 9781438472799, 222 pages, February 2019
Paperback : 9781438472805, 222 pages, January 2020

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

1. Exceptions and Rules: States of Emergency in Children of Men

2. Mapping Syriana

3. Corporate Murder in The Constant Gardener

4. Secrets of Primitive Accumulation: Inside Man

5. Fictitious Capital and Narrative Spin in The Wolf of Wall Street

6. The Meltdown and the Bailout without the Recovery: Blue Jasmine

Conclusion: Allegories for the Present


Analyzes six films as allegories of capitalism’s precarious state in the early twenty-first century.


At the beginning of the twenty-first century, as the contradictions of capitalism became more apparent than at any other time since the 1920s, numerous films gave allegorical form to the crises of contemporary capitalism. Some films were overtly political in nature, while others refracted the vicissitudes of capital in stories that were not, on the surface, explicitly political. Rumble and Crash examines six particularly rich and thought-provoking films in this vein. These films, Milo Sweedler argues, give narrative and audiovisual form to the increasingly pervasive sense that the economic system we have known and accepted as inevitable and ubiquitous is in fact riddled with self-destructive flaws. Analyzing four movies from before the global financial crisis of 2008 and two that allegorize the financial meltdown itself, Sweedler explores how cinema responded to one of the defining crises of our time. Films examined include Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men (2006), Stephen Gaghan's Syriana (2005), Fernando Meirelles's The Constant Gardener (2005), Spike Lee's Inside Man (2006), Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), and Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine (2013).

Milo Sweedler is Associate Professor of French, Cultural Analysis, and Social Theory at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada. He is the author of The Dismembered Community: Bataille, Blanchot, Leiris, and the Remains of Laure.


"Illustrated throughout with judiciously chosen frame grabs, Sweedler's book displays a thorough knowledge of the topic at hand and is a much-needed look back at a period of wretched excess—a period that is far from over … Highly recommended. " — CHOICE

"Milo Sweedler has produced what are surely the most original, provocative, and downright dazzling readings of a handful of socially significant and potent films released during the tumultuous years from 2005 to 2013. This is a fine book. " — David Desser, former editor, Cinema Journal