Introduction to Hollywood CinemaWhat is Hollywood? Prof. Julia Leyda September 8, 2010
quiz What is Hollywood? Write a description of what you think Hollywood means. (10 minutes)
meanings of “Hollywood” literal place on the map, in Los Angeles, CA (although not all studios are in that area) name of mainstream film industry in the US (although not all US-owned) also “Classical Hollywood” can refer to: time period, approx. 1930s-60s dominant style of movies from that time
what is Hollywood cinema? the institution of “Hollywood” as… aesthetic: movie as a work of art formal properties can be interpreted, categorized by genre cultural: represents and influences its context social, political aspects; “American society just as it wanted to see itself” (Bazin) cultural constraints: Production Code (1930-68) and heteronormative happy endings commercial: profit-driven global industry production distribution reception
how do we study Hollywood cinema? … and its products: the movies film history star system genres, auteurs technological advances film analysis form content interpretation
timeline of Hollywood eras 1890s earliest movie cameras and projectors 1910s-20s height of silent cinema 1930s-60s Golden Age, Studio Era, or Classical Hollywood late 60s-80s New Hollywood, Post-Classical or Hollywood Renaissance; franchise movies 1980s-90s video; independents
how should we categorize cinema? similar to literature: open to interpretation of symbols, story, character as an art form, can be studied as other arts are often movies are based on literary works different in important ways: literature isn’t a major global industry novels aren’t created by a team of producers, writers, directors, editors, cinematographers, etc. reading is a text-only, individually paced, solitary experience
Hollywood’s “commercial aesthetic” turning our viewing pleasure into a product we can buy movies are made with the primary motive of selling as many tickets as possible appeal to widest possible audience repeat viewings awards (Oscars) increase box office success
example: Titanic (1997) combines genres popular with both men and women: love story plus action-adventure combines narrative (story and history) with spectacle (action and effects) …and in the proper order (quiet first half, thrilling action later) repeat viewings by teen fans 11 Oscars show industry approval: it does well what a Hollywood movie should do
example: Sullivan’s Travels (1941) satire about Hollywood’s commercial aesthetic what do audiences want? who can decide what audiences want? serious realism vs. escapist movies art vs. entertainment which is more profitable? ST itself is a comedy, not a serious art movie
Sullivan: ... I want this picture to be a commentary on modern conditions, stark realism, the problems that confront the average man. Lebrand: But with a little sex. Sullivan: A little, but I don't want to stress it. I want this picture to be a document. I want to hold a mirror up to life. I want this to be a picture of dignity - a true canvas of the suffering of humanity. Lebrand: But with a little sex. Sullivan: With a little sex in it. Hadrian: How about a nice musical? Sullivan: How can you talk about musicals at a time like this? With the world committing suicide, with corpses piling up in the street, with grim death gargling at you from every corner, with people slaughtered like sheep! Hadrian: Maybe they'd like to forget that.
Sullivan’s Travels (1941)
Sullivan’s Travels (1941)
globalized Hollywood industry financing: foreign companies buy studios (Sony-Columbia) foreign investors (German 20% in 2000) revenues: silent cinema traveled easily, but sound brought language barriers movies are a huge US export (action!) personnel: foreign talent often move to Hollywood
globalized Hollywood content spaghetti westerns: 1960s Italian productions, shot in Spain, using UK and US actors remakes: Kurosawa’s 1954 Seven Samurai 七人の侍 adapted as a US western, The Magnificent Seven (1960), which inspired India’s biggest blockbuster, Sholay (1975) influences: Spain’s Almodovar specializes in melodramas that refer to Classical Hollywood women’s films
discussion topics Why do you want to study Hollywood cinema? What’s another example of the commercial aesthetic among recent movies? How often do you go to the cinema? Rent a movie? Download a movie? Watch a movie on television? Do you think Hollywood cinema is still globally dominant? Hollywood has remade several Japanese films recently—what do you think of them?