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AMERICAN FILM. PERSISTANCE OF THE CHC… & SOME ALTERNATIVES. American film seems to be a monolithic entity Seems to follow a fairly rigid pattern However, room for diversity, both within & without the Hollywood industry. DIVERSITY WITHIN THE INDUSTRY.

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AMERICAN FILM


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    1. AMERICAN FILM PERSISTANCE OF THE CHC… & SOME ALTERNATIVES

    2. American film seems to be a monolithic entity • Seems to follow a fairly rigid pattern • However, room for diversity, both within & without the Hollywood industry

    3. DIVERSITY WITHIN THE INDUSTRY • Studio Era: musical shorts, cartoons, newsreels & short documentary pieces • Different genres, each with its own conventions (but always within CHC style) • There are influences from other film styles • German Expressionism • Italian Neorealism • European Art Cinema

    4. The Cabinet of Dr Caligari(Robert Wiene, 1920)

    5. Frankenstein (James Whale, 1930)

    6. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)

    7. Rome, Open City (Roberto Rossellini, 1946)

    8. On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954)

    9. Last Year at Marienbad(Alain Resnais, 1961)

    10. Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1978)

    11. DIVERSITY WITHIN THE INDUSTRY • Combinations of animation & live action, etc. • Occasionally a documentary • Some personalities powerful enough to “go their own way”

    12. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Roger Zemeckis, 1988)

    13. Cool World (Ralph Bakshi, 1992)

    14. Roger & Me(Michael Moore, 1989)

    15. Bowling for Columbine(Michael Moore, 2002)

    16. D W Griffith

    17. King Vidor

    18. Woody Allen

    19. Francis Ford Coppola

    20. Oliver Stone

    21. Spike Lee

    22. David Lynch

    23. Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1978)

    24. OUTSIDE OF THE INDUSTRY • Since silent era, individuals have made more personal films • Most short, avant-garde films • Some documentaries, ethnographic films • A few feature films, but usually too expensive for an individual

    25. Meshes of the Afternoon(Maya Deren, 1943)

    26. PERSISTENCE OF THE MODE • CHC persists, largely unchanged by alternatives • The fact that we refer to “alternative films” indicates that they are not dominant • Most films, made anywhere, follow the basic conventions of the CHC • Narrative structure (individual protagonist, cause & effect construction, goals, etc.) • Stylistic conventions (continuity editing, esp.)

    27. PERSISTENCE OF THE MODE • Even alternatives limit their “deviations” to specific features • They use CHC as a base, then deviate from it in specific, & limited, ways • Ensures that audience can follow the narrative • We all speak the language of Hollywood

    28. WHAT DO WE CONSIDER ALTERNATIVES TODAY? • The term “independents”, in the business sense, applies to all films made today • But we think of independent films based on stylistic features, not mode of production • Some are playful with temporal & spatial relations • Others are more like European Art Cinema, with a sense of ambiguity

    29. WHAT DO WE CONSIDER ALTERNATIVES TODAY? • Some explore the limits of technology & aesthetics • A look has been accepted as “good” for Hollywood films • Fairly soft, warm lighting • A clear image • Fine-grained film stock • “Professional” acting, good-looking stars in sympathetic roles

    30. WHAT DO WE CONSIDER ALTERNATIVES TODAY? • Some films challenge accepted aesthetic qualities • May use natural lighting, regardless of resulting clarity of image • May use non-professional actors, or not especially good looking • May use cheaper alternatives to expensive film stock & cameras (digital video)

    31. Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone, 1994)

    32. The Blair Witch Project (Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez, 1999)

    33. Traffic (Steven Soderbergh, 1999)

    34. HOW DO ALTERNATIVES FIT IN THE HOLLYWOOD SYSTEM? • MARKETING • “Independent” or alternative films share a number of conventions that signal “art” to some viewers, who then seek out movies with these conventions • Tend to receive awards at film festivals & approval of critics, both used in marketing • Add diversity of product to a studio’s offerings

    35. HOW DO ALTERNATIVES FIT IN THE HOLLYWOOD SYSTEM? • Have taken over some of the role of B movies • Many actors, directors & technicians begin on these low-budget movies before moving into mainstream • Some never do, as a matter of choice • Some prefer the relative freedom offered by smaller budgets • Some simply prefer these kinds of films

    36. HOW DO ALTERNATIVES FIT IN THE HOLLYWOOD SYSTEM? • Some well-known actors (& sometimes directors) make these movies later in their careers • May be trying to prove that they are real “actors” • May be trying to “jump start” their careers during a slump

    37. Sylvester Stallone in Cop Land (James Mangold, 1997)

    38. John Travolta in Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)

    39. Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction(Quentin Tarantino, 1994)

    40. John Cusack & Cameron Diaz in Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze, 1999)

    41. John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze, 1999)

    42. HOW DO ALTERNATIVES FIT IN THE HOLLYWOOD SYSTEM? • New technologies, especially video & digital technology, can be explored • Doesn’t jeopardize success of expensive movies • Technologies then used in more expensive movies • Technologies are often used as aesthetic features, usually with narrative implications

    43. HOW DO ALTERNATIVES FIT IN THE HOLLYWOOD SYSTEM? • Because they are almost always distributed by majors, will almost never deviate too much from CHC style • The most obviously different films tend to be made without studio financing • Studios would demand changes before investing &/or agreeing to distribution • May agree after film is made & has had some exposure; a “negative pick-up”

    44. HOW DO ALTERNATIVES FIT IN THE HOLLYWOOD SYSTEM? • Most films don’t offer extreme alternatives • They are just kind of “quirky” • Allow viewers to think of themselves as artsy & clever, without having to think too much or get too confused