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Film Appreciation Episode 5: Hollywood – The Fall and Renaissance in the 60’s and 70’s.

Film appreciation is back with episode 5, it’s a quick one and this time we’re dealing with Hollyweird in the 60’s and 70’s. Which was an absolutely trying time for Hollywood and the world but it is one of my favourite periods in American cinema. In the 60’s the world, not just Hollywood was going through a change.

THE FALL:

Film appreciation is back with episode 5, it’s a quick one and this time we’re dealing with Hollyweird in the 60’s and 70’s. Which was an absolutely trying time for Hollywood and the world but it is one of my favourite periods in American cinema. In the 60’s the world, not just Hollywood was going through a change.

That change shaped our world in major ways, this was the era where Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and JFK were assassinated. It was a pretty violent time for America because they also had the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, but something was happening in American cinema that no one saw coming. PEOPLE WERE NOT GOING TO THE MOVIES LIKE THEY USED TO.

The film industry internationally was also going through change, countries like Japan, France and other parts of Europe were experiencing The New Wave. In Hollywood, the studios were still running things but they were experiencing declines in attendance mainly because TV was on the rise and the culture was shifting. The youth were becoming experimental, women’s roles were changing, hippies and rock n roll started popping and the gays were coming out of the shadows making their voices heared (film appreciation - queer cinema, will be episode 7). The very things that mainstream cinema was not conveying.

In 1963, about 121 movies were produced. Which was extremely low for Hollywood, studios were losing major money because their big films weren’t making bank. They were stuck in their big budget musicals and historical features that saw them lose millions, despite successes like Sound of Music.

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The studios were forced to co-finance indie and foreign films. Due to the decline, major studios were bought by corporations. Hollywood started finding ways to get back their audiences from TV, so they started making films that were much more risqué (due to European influences), they also started casting major TV stars in their films.

The studios were also forced to make stylistic changes to their films in order to attract back the changed society. They started making experimental films which saw them experiment with slow motion when it came to the violence and action movies, Straw Dogs and Bonnie & Clyde being perfect examples. This added to the grittier and more grounded realistic style they were going for as opposed to their previous “glossy” films.

Studios started filming on location and even started using long lenses for more intimate shots, to shoot from a distance and films like Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid and The Graduate started creating musical montages with pop songs.

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THE RENAISSANCE:

Alright so Hollywood made changes and they had an audience again, the old filmmakers began to disappear into the abyss. However a new generation of filmmakers came to be, these new filmmakers were highly influenced by the old traditional Hollywood but also the art cinema from Europe. ROGER CORMAN (remember this name kids), a producer known for his b-movies and genre films helped people like Coppola, Bogdanovich, Hopper (and others) with their first opportunities behind the camera and in front like Nicholson and Fonda.

Denis Hopper and Peter Fonda made Easy Rider for about $38k and the film made $41mil, this changed the game forever. This film along with others made Hollywood studios less controlling and allowed artistic freedom, the studios started making smaller budgeted films aimed at the youth. This was also the time that the “golden age” of American Art Cinema was born, an aged that began with films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Wild Bunch.
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Filmmakers started experimenting with genre, exploitive subjects and narrative to new levels. In 1972 Francis Ford Coppola changed the game with The Godfather, the film created a new way of distribution (wide release – simultaneously) and the marketing was insane. However The Godfather wasn’t the only great film to come out of the 70’s. In 1973, The Exorcist revolutionized the horror genre, in 1975 Steven Spielberg made probably the first blockbuster film, which is Jaws. And George Lucas changed film consumption in 1977 with Star Wars. The space opera started a worldwide merchandising trend that is still being done today.
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Star Wars wasn’t the only film to set trends, Rocky directed by John G. Avildsen started the sequels trend and Richard Donner’s DC Comics classic Superman: The Movie was the first film to be mega-packaged. Meaning the film had special effects, merchandising, huge stars and sequels from a director with no artistic pretensions.
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That’s it for this episode, till episode 6: Italian Neorealim.

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