Abstract

In the companion piece to this article, the authors discuss John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) from the perspective of what they have dubbed “representational equilibrium,” in which two opposed notions—change over time and absence of transformation—can be shown to pertain at the same time in the same film. This article maps the and-or dynamics of equilibrium onto textual space as something simultaneously autonomous (closed in upon itself) and shared or penetrated (open to otherness). This “intertextual equilibrium” allows a more complex reading of the filmic intertext as it pertains to Assault and its hypotexts. Intertextual exchange will be analyzed as points of intersection (of host and source texts) and sites of double movement or double-crossing. For example, while Once Upon a Time in the West will be seen to hold the key to Napoleon Wilson’s racial identity in Assault, Assault will simultaneously raise questions about Harmonica’s identity in Once Upon a Time in the West. Literal crossings will stand as metaphors for racial passing and metonyms for Assault’s construction: Carpenter’s film is, like its (quasi-titular) precinct, under siege, assaulted by the very intertexts on which it is built.

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