Tag Archives: Critical History of Cinema

Post War Hollywood

1946 – 1.7 billion gross (highest in 50 years)

1958 – below a billion

1962 – 900 million

1968 – 1.3 billion

1974 – 2 billion

1983 – 3 billion

1989 – 5 billion

2000 – 7.7 billion

Wartime Hollywood:

Wartime witnessed Hollywood at its most productive. People needed an escape. Hollywood responded by not only providing escape, but also contributed to the war efforts by lending its leading directors to make documentaries for the government.

Hollywood generated a lot of money for the war effort and built considerable goodwill amongst the masses. Movies kept the American audiences updated with news at the war front. Hollywood sent its best directors; Capra, Wyler, Ford, Huston, Zinnemann to make documentaries for the govt. 16mm prints of the latest releases were sent to the army offshore units free of cost.

Prestige and profits increased for Hollywood during the War years. Additionally, War Tax was imposed on cinema tickets and war bonds were sold in theatre lobbies.

After the war the relationship between film industry and the govt started to deteriorate.

In 1948, the Federal Supreme Court held a ruling whereby film studios were prompted to relinquish their ties with cinemas. The previously acceptable practise of blockbooking was discouraged for the benefit of free market enterprise. ’48 was the same year TV picked up in the United States.

There was also a general shift in American mood. There was a wider distrust of a foreigner. Compounding the problem was the McCarthy witch-hunt, proceedings were already initiated by the House of Un-American Activities Committee in the late 40s, that effectively expelled some of the most promising and talented of talent from Hollywood.

It was a sign of things going bad when MGM declared wage cuts and immense layoffs in 1949. Two assets Hollywood used to be proud off turned into liabilities. Acres of land and sound studios were empty and the contract with respective stars, directors and technicians proved to be costly. This, in aid of financial flops like Cleopetra (1963) effectively heralded the end of the Studio System in Hollywood.

Other things that effected Hollywood dollars were brought about the new found spending power that the potential audiences acquired:

  • More things to buy (supermarket boom),
  • Shift to suburbs,
  • Long distance holidays made possible.
  • Music industry

All of this resulted in diminishing number of ticket sales. Hollywood responded by;

  • 3-D films,
  • New screening formats; Cinerama, Cinemascope, more use of color,
  • Driveway cinemas,
  • Films that were less glamorous and had a lesser escapist value. Socially relevant films and Film Noir was a result of this move.

 

 

 

•Wartime witnessed Hollywood at its most productive. People needed an escape. Hollywood responded by not only providing escape, but also contributed to the war efforts by lending its leading directors to make documentaries for the government.
•Hollywood generated a lot of money for the war effort and built considerable goodwill amongst the masses. Movies kept the American audiences updated with news at the war front. Hollywood sent its best directors; Capra, Wyler, Ford, Huston, Zinnemann to make documentaries for the govt. 16mm prints of the latest releases were sent to the army offshore units free of cost.
•Prestige and profits increased for Hollywood during the War years. Additionally, War Tax was imposed on cinema tickets and war bonds were sold in theatre lobbies.
•After the war the relationship between film industry and the govt started to deteriorate.
•In 1948, the Federal Supreme Court held a ruling whereby film studios were prompted to relinquish their ties with cinemas. The previously acceptable practise of blockbooking was discouraged for the benefit of free market enterprise. ’48 was the same year TV picked up in the United States.
•There was also a general shift in American mood. There was a wider distrust of a foreigner. Compounding the problem was the McCarthy witch-hunt, proceedings were already initiated by the House of Un-American Activities Committee in the late 40s, that effectively expelled some of the most promising and talented of talent from Hollywood.
•It was a sign of things going bad when MGM declared wage cuts and immense layoffs in 1949. Two assets Hollywood used to be proud off turned into liabilities. Acres of land and sound studios were empty and the contract with respective stars, directors and technicians proved to be costly. This, in aid of financial flops like Cleopetra (1963) effectively heralded the end of the Studio System in Hollywood.

    Other things that effected Hollywood dollars were brought about the new found spending power that the potential audiences acquired:

•More things to buy (supermarket boom),
•Shift to suburbs,
•Long distance holidays made possible.
•Music industry
 

All of this resulted in diminishing number of ticket sales. Hollywood responded by;

•3-D films,
•New screening formats; Cinerama, Cinemascope, more use of color,
•Driveway cinemas,
•Films that were less glamorous and had a lesser escapist value. Socially relevant films and Film Noir was a result of this move.

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Cinema around the world I (Fareast and India)

Japanese Cinema

The cinema of Japan has a history that spans more than 100 years. Japan has one of the oldest and largest film industries in the world

1950s

The 1950s were the zenith, or Golden Age, of Japanese cinema. Three Japanese films from this decade (Rashomon,Seven Samurai and Tokyo Story) made the Sight & Sound‘s 2002 Critics and Directors Poll for the best films of all time. This era after the American Occupation period also lead to the rise of diversity in movie distribution with the increased output and popularity of the film studios.The first Japanese film in color is Carmen Comes Home directed byKeisuke Kinoshita was also made in this era, the black and white print of which was also available.

Other examples of film from this era inculde

The Gate of HellSeven SamuraiThe Magnificent SevenGojira (Godzilla)The Burmese Harp , Fires On The Plain,Enjo, The Life of Oharu, Sansho the Bailiff , RepastLate Chrysanthemums,The Sound of the Mountain , Floating Clouds and last but not the least two of the (The Human Condition Trilogy films).No Greater Love , and The Road To Eternity.

1960s

This period was the decade with the greatest number of new movies, with 547 movies being produced. Production in the Japanese film industry reached its quantitative peak in the 1960s. It can also be regarded as the peak years of the Japanese New Wave movement, which began in the 50′s and continued through the early 70′s. examples of newwave include Oshima’s Cruel Story of YouthNight and Fog in Japan and Death By Hanging, Shindo’s Onibaba, Hani’s She And He and Imamura’s The Insect Woman.

Other examples of film from this era inculde

Yojimbo, ‘Man with No Name‘ ,An Autumn AfternoonWhen a Woman Ascends the StairsScattered CloudsWoman in the Dunes

1970s

Yoji Yamada introduced the commercially successful Tora-San series, while also directing other films, notably the popular The Yellow Handkerchief.

Toshiya Fujita made the revenge film Lady Snowblood in 1973. It would go on to become a popular cult film in the West.

New wave filmmakers Susumu Hani and Shohei Imamura retreated to documentary work, though Imamura made a dramatic return to feature filmmaking with Vengeance Is Mine (1979).

Korean Cinema

Korean cinema encompasses the motion picture industries of North Korea and South Korea. As with all aspects of Korean life during the past century, the film industry has often been at the mercy of political events.The civil war broke in the 1950s, during this era, only five or six films were produced each year from 1950 to 1953. Much worse for Korea’s film legacy, the vast majority of Korea’s film history was lost in this devastating

Golden Age (1955-1973)

With the armistice of 1953, South Korean president Syngman Rhee made an effort to help rejuvenate the local film industry exempting it from taxation. The rebirth that almost occurred after 1945 can be said to have truly began with director Lee Kyu-hwan’s tremendously successful remake of Chunhyang-jon

With Korean cinema for the first time working under something similar to conditions in other countries, both the quality and quantity of film-making had increased rapidly by the end of the 1950s. South Korean films began winning international awards. In dramatic contrast to the beginning of the 1950s, when only 5 movies were made per year, 111 films were produced in South Korea in 1959.

Korean cinema enjoyed a brief period of unprecedented freedom during the 1960-1961 However with the ascension of Park Chung Hee to the presidency in 1962, government control over the film industry increased substantially. Under the Motion Picture Law of 1963, a series of increasingly restrictive measures were placed on the film industry. The number of films produced and imported were limited under a strict quota system. The new regulations dropped the number of domestic film-production companies from 71 to 16 within a year. Government censorship at this time also became very strict, focusing mainly on any hint of pro-communist messages or obscenity.

Despite these repressive governmental policies, however, a consistently large and devoted theater-going audience, and many quality films continued to give South Korea a healthy cinematic culture throughout the 1960s. Also, theGrand Bell Awards were established in 1962. Called Korea’s equivalent to the Academy Awards, they are the country’s longest-running film award.

Hong Kong cinema

The cinema of Hong Kong is one of the three major threads in the history of Chinese language cinema, alongside thecinema of China, and the cinema of Taiwan.

For decades, Hong Kong was the third largest motion picture industry in the world (after Indian Cinema andHollywood) and the second largest exporter.

The 1940s-1960s

Postwar Hong Kong cinema, like postwar Hong Kong industries in general, was catalyzed by the continuing influx of capital and talents from Mainland Chinathe civil war definitively shifted the center of Chinese-language cinema to Hong Kong.

1970s

Mandarin-dialect film in general and the Shaw Brothers studio in particular began the 1970s in apparent positions of unassailable strength. Cantonese cinema virtually vanished in the face of Mandarin studios and Cantonese television, which became available to the general population in 1967; in 1972 no films in the local dialect were made. The Shaws saw their longtime rival Cathay ceasing film production, leaving themselves the only megastudio. The martial arts subgenre of the kung fu movie exploded into popularity internationally, with the Shaws driving and dominating the wave. But changes were beginning that would greatly alter the industry by the end of the decade.

 

Chinese Cinema

The Communist era, 1950s-1960s

With the Communist takeover in 1949, the government saw motion pictures as an important mass production art form and tool for propaganda. Starting from 1951, pre-1949 Chinese films and Hollywood and Hong Kong productions were banned as the Communist Party of China sought to tighten control over mass media, producing instead movies centering around peasants, soldiers and workers such as Bridge (1949) and The White Haired Girl (1950). One of the production bases in the middle of all the transition was the Changchun Film Studio.

The number of movie-viewers increased sharply, from 47 million in 1949 to 415 million in 1959. In the 17 years between the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the Cultural Revolution, 603 feature films and 8,342 reels of documentaries and newsreels were produced, sponsored mostly as Communist propaganda by the government. Chinese filmmakers were sent to Moscow to study Soviet filmmaking. In 1956, the Beijing Film Academywas opened. The first wide-screen Chinese film was produced in 1960.

The Cultural Revolution and its Aftermath

During the Cultural Revolution, the film industry was severely restricted. Almost all previous films were banned, and only a few new ones were produced

In the years immediately following the Cultural Revolution, the film industry again flourished as a medium of popular entertainment. Domestically produced films played to large audiences, and tickets for foreign film festivals sold quickly. The industry tried to revive crowds by making more innovative and “exploratory” films like their counterparts in the West.

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Easy Riders and Raging Bulls: Movie Brats and New Hollywood (1962 – 1981)

New Hollywood              (Also Known As)

American New Wave

Post Classical Hollywood

Hollywood Renaissance

The Auteur Period

The fifth era in the history of Hollywood although ushered in the late 60s it came on its own in the 70s. It was marked by the rise of a new generation of young, film-school-educated, countercultural filmmakers — directors, actors and writers alike — whom Hollywood felt could speak to the new generation of young people in ways that their older stars could not. By this point in time, Hollywood was desperate to hold onto any remaining scrap of relevance in an era that saw its dominance of American pop culture pulverized by the trifecta of TV, foreign cinema and independent film. Subsequently, they granted these young artists unprecedented freedom to realize their visions in ways that past Hollywood filmmakers could never have imagined. The result was one of the largest creative explosions that the American film industry has ever seen, and which profoundly affected the way in which Hollywood operated into the present day.

The hippie movement, the civil rights movement, free love, the growth of rock and roll, changing gender roles and drug use certainly had an impact. The counter-culture of the time had influenced Hollywood to be freer, to take more risks and to experiment with alternative, young film makers, as old Hollywood professionals and old-style moguls died out and a new generation of film makers arose. Many of the audiences and movie-makers of the late 60s had seen a glimpse of new possibilities, new story-telling techniques and more meaningful ‘artistic’ options, by the influences of various European “New Wave” movements (French and Italian) and the original works of other foreign-language film-makers.

The point that is often given for the beginning of the New Hollywood era is the collapse of the Hays Code in the mid-’60s. Films like Bonnie and ClydeThe GraduateMidnight Cowboy,Cool Hand LukeThe Producers and Easy Rider broke countless taboos, earning immense critical acclaim and box office returns in the process. Realism and immersion were major themes in such movies, a backlash against the spectacle and artificiality that defined the studio system. A symbol of this emphasis on realism was the choice of many filmmakers to shoot on location — not only did advances in technology make this less expensive than shooting on set, it also heightened the feeling that the people on screen were in a real place. In addition, such films were infused with sexuality, violence, rock music, anti heroes, anti-establishment themes and other symbols of the ’60s counterculture. Many New Hollywood filmmakers openly admitted to using marijuana and psychedelic drugs, furthering their popularity in the general climate of the ’60s.

The success of New Hollywood’s early films caused the studios to grant almost complete creative control to these filmmakers. As the Seventies rolled in, such films as Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon and Network, Roman Polanski’s neo-Noir Chinatown and Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver were released to not only near-universal critical acclaim, but also massive ticket sales, earning their studios boatloads of cash in the process. For a time, it appeared that Hollywood was finally out of its post-war slump.

While the New Hollywood era lasted less than a decade and a half, it had a profound impact on how Hollywood operated. To put it in as few words as possible, New Hollywood was the era in which, at least in America, cinema finally secured its status as true art after decades of fighting for acceptance alongside literature, theater and music. The old studio system, in which the producers had the ultimate say in everything that happened on set and backstage, was gone for good. Even after the studios pushed back against the excesses of bloated-headed ”visionaries” and Executive Meddling returned to prominence, the idea that Hollywood writers and directors have the right to control their work and make movies for the art was something that stayed in the American film industry, as evidenced by such Blockbuster Age filmmakers as Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson and Christopher Nolan. The output of the era, like that of the golden age, is often put through the nostalgia filter, with some saying that it was the last truly classic decade for American cinema.

Salient Features:

  • Offbeat antihero protagonist
  • Sterile society
  • Explicit treatment of sexual conflicts and psychological problems
  • Mixing of the comic and serious
  • Self-conscious use of cinematic effects
  • Self-reflexive and post-modern bent
  • Lesser use of background score
  • Natural lighting
  • Shooting on location

 

Reasons why new cinema evolved:

Old patrons stayed home for TV. A new market was identified that wanted adult and mature themes that TV didn’t offer.

World cinema and underground films converted the American producer

American film producers learned to diversify. Not every film is for everyone:

Family musicals

Social issues films

Period films

Midnight films

Exploitation films

Complex retread of genre films

Notable directors:

  • Robert Altman
  • Sidney Lumet
  • Martin Scorsese
  • Hal Ashby
  • Francis Ford Coppola

 

Notable films:

  • Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
  • The Graduate (1967)
  • Midnight Cowboy (1969)
  • Easy Rider (1969)
  • Five Easy Pieces (1970)
  • M*A*S*H (1970)
  • The Godfather (1972)
  • Mean Streets (1973)
  • Harold & Maude (1973)
  • The Godfather II (1974)
  • Chinatown (1974)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
  • Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
  • Taxi Driver (1976)
  • Network (1976)
  • Annie Hall (1977)
  • The Deer Hunter (1978)
  • Apocalypse Now (1979)
  • Raging Bull (1980)

 

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