The Capitol Dome

The Capitol Dome 55.2

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I. EVOLUTION OF A LOCATION If you see a motion picture with almost any Washing- ton, D.C. context, you can almost always count on it: the shining image of the Capitol Dome, either the West Front glowing ivory from a midday sun or the East Front backlit by a setting sun, a cream-colored personi- fication of our democracy (fig. 1). is is the standard "establishing shot" of myriad mov- ies, a ready shorthand that tells any audience in the world they are now in Washington, D.C. at image— which I also call the "postcard shot"—is used so oen because it provides a ready symbol of our national capital and seat of government, the steadfast icon of our political life.* us does that grand Dome, with its imposing architecture and layered history, perform TTHROUGH A DOME DARKLY: THE CAPITOL AS SYMBOL, TOUCHSTONE, AND ADMONITION IN AMERICAN FILM By Mike Canning Fig. 1. With the Capitol Dome serving as a standard backdrop, Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) pursues a potential presidential assassin across the roof of an apartment building on Capitol Hill in In the Line of Fire (1993). "It was a miracle of rare device, a sunny pleasure dome with caves of ice!"—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan * is essay on the Capitol in film focuses exclusively on standard Hollywood sound feature films released in theaters over the last 90 years. It does not include documentaries of any kind nor products made principally for television. However, many of the same points about our Capitol and our congressional politics could be similarly attributed to the burgeoning number of TV series using Washington locales. SEE NOTES FOR IMAGE CREDITS THE CAPITOL DOME 2

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