The Theme of ‘Human Emotions and Human Rights: The Narrative
Structure in the Selected American Films’ – The Color Purple ...
Acknowledgement
I extend my sincere and heartfelt gratitude to the Director Prof. C.
Vijayashree, Joint Director Prof. T. ...
Osmania University Centre for International Programmes
This is to certify that Dr. Jayshree Singh, Assistant Professor, De...
Contents
S.No.

Contents

Page Nos.

1

Preface

5-8

2

The American Cinema i.
ii.
iii.
iv.
v.
vi.
vii.
viii.

3

Introdu...
PREFACE
Human condition and human nature are indispensable in the span of human life.
Whatever the man experiences or feel...
absence of legal constraint, social constraint, and even self-restraint—with unbounded
will and unconstrained desire." (Mu...
emotions undergo trauma and intense desire to free themselves from the forbidden areas.
Such prohibited spaces, if not mea...
the scope further to examine the universal and unhistorical contexts that construct
emotions of self-dignity and self-enha...
The American Cinema
Introduction
The writing of the history of the American Cinema began with the descriptions of its
inve...
and Robert C. Allen (1979) and (1996) also supported an argument that the motion
picture was a middle-class amusement from...
a director, like Griffith, developed and paid his own stock company; to the producer-unit
system (1914 onwards) within whi...
including magic lanterns, zoetropes, and other optical entertainments. Such inventions are
subsequently ‘selected, improve...
Issues and Themes
Very early cinema, particularly in its very earliest period in which films most often
consisted of a sin...
Ben ur (1926) that had a mindless appeal for the public, glorifying warrior and peace
lover alike. Also in this tradition ...
silent era because of its daring, pitiless and sophisticated presentation of the social
condition, which was harsh and rea...
A number of directors, who shifted to filmmaking from the stage, were greatly influenced
by European models. On celluloid ...
hysteria or subjectivity, to unleash the social reality ‘in terms of an empirical notion of
truth’ (MacCabe

8) Therefore ...
the spectator remains immobile and loses all sense of surroundings, in thrall to an illusion
of reality deriving from psyc...
affected with such romantic heroes. The cinematic experience observed the shift from
movie going habit to habitual consump...
and freshness of American commercial movies had come from the inventive new ways in
which formulas were reshaped to meet t...
expressions of mediation between cultures but also as handbooks of socialization into the
codes of Americanness………….”(Soll...
the “strategic essentialists” (to borrow a phrase from Gayatri Spivak). Thinkers from this
school (who include Arthur Jafa...
the globalization of black cinema and the on-screen treatment of major themes in African
American culture such as exile an...
book by Borde and Chaumeton describes film noir as purely a style which used the tropes
of Blackness as metaphors of White...
of “Mammy.” During the “soft” period of filmmaking in the 1940s, there were few
Blacks on the screen. In 1942, Walt Disney...
continued the Black theme in 1973 with The Book of Numbers. Former EBONY Fashion
Fair model Richard Roundtree scored big i...
bangers, to the exclusion of strong and loving Black fathers and mothers and competent
Black professionals and leaders.
To...
The term 'Second Wave' was coined by Marsha Lear, and refers to the increase in
feminist’s activity which occurred in Amer...
tradition rather they are constructed socially within the gender norms in the guidance and
strength of the dominant male a...
question before technology is how to preserve the actors’ image ‘pure’ while capturing
the twinning of the actors in order...
features in eco-injustice. Thus eco-criticism has sensitized and problematized the
environmental issues, matters to public...
results. Thus these filmic text are not yet into portraying the injustices explicitly
inflicted upon the environment and t...
In context of the social ecology and the gender role, the eco-feminist finds an analogy in
the domination of nature and in...
Escape to Nowhere (1961), which featured children as World War Two soldiers,
including his sister Anne Spielberg. The Last...
Spielberg had his hands on the projects in the late 1980’s on pop-culture. In 1988, he
produced the landmark animation/liv...
back

in

the

director's

chair

with

A.I.

Artificial

Intelligence

(2001).

Spielberg has been extremely active in fi...
Gaghan and featuring an ensemble cast. He is the only director to have been nominated
for two films the same year as the B...
The film The Informant was released in September, 2009. It was Warner Brothers film
worked with Soderberg and Matt Damon, ...
movement as an activist. But she left Spelman College which she found too puritanical.
She studied in Sarah Lawrence, Libe...
became a contributing editor at Ms. Magazine. Her book Langston Hughes: American
Poet was published in 1974. She and her h...
she worked at Brandeis University. Alice earned an American Book Award for The Color
Purple. She was also nominated for a ...
Ruthless People with Bette Midler and Judge Reinhold, and in 1987, he made his featuredirecting debut with the dark comedy...
produced numerous music videos for the band after meeting them in New York in 1980 including clips directed by filmmakers ...
Robert Altman's The Player (1992). In early 1993, she was the subject of a People
Magazine cover story asking, "What Happe...
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978 3-659-34698-9 (1) -

  1. 1. The Theme of ‘Human Emotions and Human Rights: The Narrative Structure in the Selected American Films’ – The Color Purple (1985) and Erin Brockovich (2000) Post- Doctoral Fellowship Project Dated – June 9, 2011 Submitted to Osmania University Centre for International Programme Osmania University Campus Hyderabad – 500007 By – Dr. Jayshree Singh Senior Faculty, Department of English Bhupal Nobles Post Graduate Girls’ College (Affiliated to Mohanlal Sukhadia University) Udaipur – 313001 (Rajasthan) 1
  2. 2. Acknowledgement I extend my sincere and heartfelt gratitude to the Director Prof. C. Vijayashree, Joint Director Prof. T. Vijay Kumar, the Emeritus Prof. K. Azam, Prof. J. L. N. Rao and to all senior and concerned members of OUCIP, American Studies Library, Osmania University Campus, Hyderabad for their kind cooperation and encouragement. The environment at library, at campus and the guest house has been a complete retreat to gain selfknowledge, self-awareness and self-enhancement. The resources at library and the guidance of the scholarly fraternity were really self-propelling and modest. I thank once again to all my well-wishers and the guardians to provide me such environment to study fruitfully. 2
  3. 3. Osmania University Centre for International Programmes This is to certify that Dr. Jayshree Singh, Assistant Professor, Department of English B.N.P.G. Girls College, Mohan Lal Sukhadia University, Udaipur, Rajasthan was awarded the OUCIP Post-Doctoral Fellowship. She availed the Fellowship from 11 May-9 Jun 2011. She fulfilled all the requirements of the Fellowship and successfully completed a Project titled “Human Emotions and Human Rights: Narrative Structure in Selected American Films—The Color Purple (1985) and Erin Brockovich (2000)” (Dr. T. Vijay Kumar) Professor of English & Joint Director Osmania University Campus, HYDERABAD, India. Tel: +91-40-27098609; Fax: +91-40-27097114 Email: oucip09@gmail.com; Website: www.oucip.in 3
  4. 4. Contents S.No. Contents Page Nos. 1 Preface 5-8 2 The American Cinema i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi. vii. viii. 3 Introduction Issues and Themes Classical Hollywood Films Post War Changes in Hollywood Films The Blacks in American/Afro-American Cinema Feminism in Films Eco-criticism in American Films Gender and Ecology in Films 9-12 14-16 17-18 18-20 20-27 27-30 30-32 32-33 4 The Directors, Producers and Actors of the 34-50 Selected Films Film and Film Narrative 51 i. Narrative Structure and Comprehension 52-53 ii. Literature Adapted in Films 53-56 5 Human Emotions and Human Rights 57-58 6 Theoretical Framework 59-61 7 9 The Film “Color Purple” (1985): A Study of 62-74 Signs, Sounds and Text The Film “Erin Brockovich” (2000): Women 75-90 and Ecology at Work Conclusion 91-92 10 References 8 93-100 4
  5. 5. PREFACE Human condition and human nature are indispensable in the span of human life. Whatever the man experiences or feels, is recognized as emotional expression and those expressions are either objective as they are mostly similar to other’s feelings or the expressions are subjective because they elicit personal impressions regarding good or bad situations in life. Therefore emotions are universally found in human beings and they are perpetually built. During configuration, the freedom of choice, desire, knowledge, aim, quest, decision, ethics, sense of human dignity are the components that establish relationship between human emotion and human rights. Unless these subjectivities are for unselfish purpose in life, they do not help in emancipation personally or universally. Mostly in material/ capitalistic world such notion of humanism is misunderstood because men/women ascribe their desires, values and emotions to their actions and achievements as per their likes or dislikes, which personally benefit to them but not to all. It is then logically a doctrine of actions that stimulates human to do non-human actions. The personal subjectivity may be biased although it does then provide freedom of selfreliance and self-dignity to one but to the other it may be disappointing. Thus ‘it is not then universe of transcendent goals; it is not the universe of human subjectivity’ (Sartre 49). It is in this context that human rights are seen as an attribute derived from the human condition. ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’ (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration). Human nature, condition, essence or dignity is understood as a cross-cultural condition, or as a common feature of all human beings. Human nature does not define human rights; instead it questions the forbidden area and prohibited space. The interrogation is somehow the way to defend one’s self-presence and dignity where there is deprivation and challenge to identity. In the capitalist-centered society it is unethical to rationalize one’s individuality in context of humanity and the ethos of human rights is at discretion of the political ethos. The emotions of self-dignity and selfenhancement are considered unaccountable to the human phenomenon in its wholeness. This binary is the creation of egotist individuals and societies who practice liberty as “the 5
  6. 6. absence of legal constraint, social constraint, and even self-restraint—with unbounded will and unconstrained desire." (Muller 2-3) The research study in my paper attempts to focus on the self-perception and the right perspective of human existence. These are the attributes of expressions, emotions and experiences. They involve the values of dignity and desire to live healthily and happily. These are the inherent and natural rights. But in the system of social hierarchies, patriarchal conventional structure and in the capitalist economy, these human values are suppressed, oppressed, exploited and marginalized. The effects fall upon women’s lives, children and nature. The study also investigates that self-inquiry, self-knowledge; selfawareness and self-enhancement are the necessary ingredients for ecological and environmental balance and to live life with dignity. The selected films such as The Color Purple directed by Steven Spielberg, and Erin Brockovich directed by Steven Soderbergh, are undertaken to explore this idea of the research study, in which different characters of the film delineate different human condition as per their perception of their existence. The movie The Color Purple (1985) reenacts violence, humiliation, sexist prejudice, gender dominance as well as the racial ghetto. The character of Mr. Albert (Danny Glover) projects disregard for the identity of women among the black community people; his image suggests male-oriented hierarchical code of living for women. The character of Miss Millie (Dana Ivey) – a White American women symbolizes the cultural baggage of not only belonging to superior and civilized class, but suggests the sufferings from segregation and its dystopia. The character of Celie Johnson (Whoopi Goldberg) in the film evokes sensitivity towards human nature that symbolically relates the sorrow, loneliness, ignorance and darkness on one hand and on the other side joys of contentment, simplicity, togetherness and winning the hardships. The character of Sophia (Oprah Winfrey) shows that the human nature is sensitive to the human tumult, anger, squalor, oppression. It breaks poignantly all hope and dream. It destroys the human body and human mind’s strength. It causes ambivalence, dilemma against the metaphysical truth; the disgust and helplessness to overcome the human sensibility. The human 6
  7. 7. emotions undergo trauma and intense desire to free themselves from the forbidden areas. Such prohibited spaces, if not meanwhile are constructed with some auxiliary support, hope, positive notions of self-awareness, self-capacity, the human emotions of metaphysical depression obstructs the significance of human existence in the face of crisis. The character of Shug Avery (Margaret Avery) depicts a new wave of black feminism and a radical voice to extend the hope and the sense of self-centering among the black women, who have survived Black male-oriented community oppressions, violence, abuses and injustice. The movie Erin Brockovich 2000 sets the link in emotional ethics, society ethos and the norms of existence prevalent in the materialistic and urban society. The desecration, degeneration and imbalances in the ecology and environment are the quintessential of the science, technology and capitalism. These are the pressures that have been problematized in context of human predicament in the movie. George (Aaron Eckhart), the neighbor of Erin and the smooth biker dude, who loves to be with kids and play the role of affectionate caretaker as well as the reinforcement to Erin’s crusade to seek justice for victims against Chromium contamination. Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts) the damsel in distress depicts feminization of poverty but she is a strong woman in man’s world. Ed Masry (Albert Finney) the scum-bag attorney is one of the prominent figure to surface the corporate mismanagement of the environment with the paralegal help of Erin Brockovich. The character of Donna Jensen (Marg Helenberger) the proposed seller of the land to PG&E Company signifies the unawareness of the common people towards the rights for natural resources that comes under the property rights. The non-human character of the film i.e. the wasteland is the core of subjective discourse in the filmic text. It was earlier owned by the PG&E Company and then sold to Donna Jensen and then again the company proposed to purchase it. This company due to its emission of Hexavalent Chromium and polluting the drinking water supplies and causing health hazards was given the orders of clean up and abatement by the Hinkley Water Board. In the context of these challenges and reflections, the dream of utopian human rights society is interrogated in the selected films, The detail analysis of the films questions the forbidden areas, prohibited spaces through the signs and signifiers relationship and leaves 7
  8. 8. the scope further to examine the universal and unhistorical contexts that construct emotions of self-dignity and self-enhancement in the cultural process of human condition. 8
  9. 9. The American Cinema Introduction The writing of the history of the American Cinema began with the descriptions of its inventions in the late 1880s and early 1890s. One of the deliberate ‘histories’ of American film was written by inventor, W.K.L. Dickinson in 1895. Dickinson’s History of the Kinetograph, Kinetoscope, and Kineto-Phonograph recounted his development of the Kinetograph (a camera) and the Kinetoscope (a peepshow viewing device) for Thomas Edison. The publisher Raff and Gammon promoted the sales of those to the potential customers. The next major history was Robert Grau’s Theatre of Science (1914) and Moving Picture World. It celebrated the achievements of major American exhibitors, producers, directors, actors, screenwriters and other creative talents. A former journalist Terry Ramsaye wrote A Million and One Nights (1926), a two volume history of the motion picture. From 1931 to 1949 he was the editor of the trade magazine Motion Picture Herald. The other prominent historians who were involved with the film industry of the twentieth century were Benjamin Hampton (1931), Lewsis Jacobs (1939), Kenneth Macgowan (1965), and David Robinson (1973). They delineated the importance and affirmation of the American Cinema as a social, economic, cultural, and/or aesthetic form. (Belton in Oxford Guide to Film Studies, 1998) In the second half of the twentieth century, especially from 1968 to 1978, the independent scholars such as Kevin Brownlow and Anthony Slide played a crucial role in gathering together primary research collections and in rewriting the history of silent American Cinema and academics, but their work lacked theoretical framework. Wisconsin Centre for Film and Theatre Research in 1969, United Artists Collection of Films and pre-1948 Warner Bros., RKO and Monogram films launched revisionist interest in cinema and preserved archival prints. This led to a film conference in 1978 which was held by the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) at Brighton. Robert Sklar’s book Movie Made America in 1975 sought to reconstruct a past in which common people struggled to determine their lives and institutions and linked the rise of the emergence of a ‘new social order’ and identifying early audiences as members of ‘the lowest and most invisible classes in American society’ (Sklar 3). The film scholars and critic Russell Merrit (1973) 9
  10. 10. and Robert C. Allen (1979) and (1996) also supported an argument that the motion picture was a middle-class amusement from its beginning, and to trace the growing use of the cinema by the middle class, to express and reinforce its own bourgeoisie values, and Allen called it as ‘postrevisioism’. Ben Singer (1995) said that immigrant and the working class population constituted the majority of moviegoers as late as (1908-10). Jean-Louis Comollli’s multi-part essay ‘Technique et ideologie’ (1972) called for material historiography and rejected the concept of linear causality. He argued instead that non-linear, uneven development in which events are the results of a field of different, often opposing, determinations evolve cinematic forms. These are determined by the often contradictory demands of technology, economics, and ideology within the existing social, economic and cultural institutions that they represent or inform. Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), Allen (1977) and Gomery’s book Film History (1985) expressed that the subjective nature of scientific observation i.e. empiricism - interprets the ‘continuous process of interaction’, but it is not necessary the knowledge of the observer does not invalidate the knowledge gained from the observation. On the other hand conventionalism insists that observation is always subjective, that knowledge is socially produced, but as they are perceived as frames of reference or systems, these events cannot be known for observed. E.H.Carr’s What is History (1961) and Roy Bhaskar’s The Realist Theory of Science (1978) appropriated the concepts of ‘generative mechanisms’ and ‘realism’. They discussed that observable phenomena is the result of non-observable processes. These processes do exist and produce observable experience. (Hill 230) According to Allen and Gomery, aesthetic film history created by the individual genius of a director, writer, producer, or star, involves the study of the cinema as an art form and of filmmakers who as an individual and with artististic vision determine the thematic and aesthetic significance of their films. (Film History: Theory and Practice, 1985) Prior to 1917 the modes of production and stylistic practices within Hollywood continued to change-from the cameraman system (1896-1907), in which films were made by cameramen; to the director system (1907-9); the director-unit system (1909-14), in which 10
  11. 11. a director, like Griffith, developed and paid his own stock company; to the producer-unit system (1914 onwards) within which an individual producer co-coordinated the production process. Hollywood cinema Bordwell argued that neither film noir nor auteur films resulted in the creation of a radically new norm. Indeed, even with the advent of sound, colour, and widescreen, the system of classical Hollywood cinema remained more or less constant. ‘Early sound technology was based on the exact synchronization of sound and image of the same scene, which could then be edited together in conventional manner to maintain the stylistic continuity (Comolli 4-5). David Bordwell, Janet Staiger and Kristin Thompson’s book The Classical Hollywood Cinema (1985) explored in the style of filmmaking the stylistics and narrative features, developments in film technology and changes in the economic structure of the film industry which were mediated by the entire system (mode of production) of industrial practices. The various professional organizations such as the Academy of American of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the American Society of Cinematographers, and the Society of Motion Picture (and Television) and Engineers explored the cinema’s status as a mode of production and its significance as a new form of mass consumption. They emphasized upon primary, print-based research materials such as trade journals, studio files, court testimony, censorship records, screenwriting manuals, and other forms of evidence. The books such as The Hollywood Studio System, 1986; Shared Pleasures, 1992; Interpreting Films, 1992; Bad Women, 1995; The Wages of Sin, 1991; Hollywood Censored, 1994; Grand Design, 1993 examined the cultural theory as regards national identity, the representation of race, class, gender and other forms of social identification with issues of film historiography. The use of technology in cinema began to be done for aesthetic practice and for picking up the development and change that were happening in cinema due to new techniques and inventions. Raymond Williams makes a useful distinction between two categories frequently as interchangeable in discussions of cinema technology. He defines technical invention as a ‘specific device, developed from practical experience or scientific knowledge and their interaction’. These include pre-cinema devices associated with the development of still photography, and others concerned with the play of moving images 11
  12. 12. including magic lanterns, zoetropes, and other optical entertainments. Such inventions are subsequently ‘selected, improved and developed in to a systematic technology of “film” or “cinema” (Williams 12-13). The motion picture industry grew from its origins during the final years of the nineteenth century to consolidation into an oligopoly, that is controlled by a few corporations in 1930-1940s such as – Paramount, Loew’s (MGM), Twentieth Century –Fox, Warner Bros., and RKO. They were integrated business enterprises for world distribution and presentation. By the mid-1970s Hollywood as an industry had adjusted to a new world of flexible film production and the new suburban audiences captured by television.(Hill: 246) However, as the work of Mayer (1978), Gomery (1993), and Vogel (1995) suggests, a new era for Hollywood as a film industry began in the mid-1970s following the innovation of the blockbuster, exemplified by such films as Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977). Hollywood blockbusters decided the Hollywood corporate stock market prices rise and fall with the weekend figures for such films. In the mid-1970s Time Inc. changed the world of cable television in the United States for ever with its Home Box Office (HBO), which for a monthly fee of about $10, offered cable television subscribers recent motion pictures-uncut, uninterrupted by commercials, and not sanitized to please the network censors. The Hollywood industry began to be protected by the Motion Picture Association of America as the agent so that the major studios could work for an open US market in negotiations required by the National Recovery Act in 1930s and for an open Europe through the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1990s. In this way Hollywood corporations have been able to spread production over dozens of films and amortize the costs of multi-million dollar production budgets and a global network of offices. 12
  13. 13. Issues and Themes Very early cinema, particularly in its very earliest period in which films most often consisted of a single shot before 1904, related to monstration than to narration). The edited sequence was displayed to the spectator, which was not addressed to them but they were absorbed in a coherent fictional world, attentive to character cues and immersed in following a story. (Burch, 1990) In 1903 Porter made the Great Train Robbery with particulars of gripping incident and in 1907 Rescued from an Eagle’s Nest, in which D.W.Griffith appeared. These primitive films made clear that the motion picture was not a novel in pictures brought to life nor was it photographed theatre. It was infact a carefully telescoped, somewhat distorted but brilliantly concentrated visual abstractions of the flow of life itself. The cutting together of images-each one of which presented a highlight of human experience was designed to provide a more lucid and moving way of telling a story so that brilliant verbal image could cast resonances, making the reader use his imagination, while by its very nature film was literal, spelling out what a writer might imply. (Higham, 8) The fascination and intensity of human imagination in movies was different to viewers, than to relishing the same in novels as readers. Among the famous followers of Griffith, it was Henry King who drew his films from success of fiction i.e. all the way from Hergescheimer’s minor classic Tol’able David down to Olive Higgins Prouty’s Stella Dallas. Although there is lack of Griffith’s sense of rhythm and epic sweep, but he had the ability to penetrate character, to make his performers-especially his actresses show not simply one aspect of human being (envy, meanness, weakness of spirit, heroism, ecstatic adoration) but also ring a whole series of changes, creating mirrors for the unpredictability of life. After the followers of Griffith like Vidor, Monta Bell, William Wellman,, there originated American silent comedy. Thomas Ince was Griffith’s greatest rival in the field of the historical film. Unlike the more poetic and leisurely Griffith, he liked a hard edge, a raw toughness in his films, particularly in the harsh truth of William S. Hart Westerns. His fines achievement, Civilization (1915) showed an impressive grasp of screen construction, a sense of realism superior to Griffith’s since it was undermined by sentimentality. Other specialists in the spectacle film were Fred Niblo’s vigorous epic 13
  14. 14. Ben ur (1926) that had a mindless appeal for the public, glorifying warrior and peace lover alike. Also in this tradition was Clarence Brown, creator of the lavishly mounted Garbo-Gilbert vehicle Flesh and the Devil (1927); this well made valentine movie The Eagle (1925) and The Goose Woman (1925) and Smouldering Fires (1924) both portraits of women in decline. Griffith’s greatest rival was Cecil B.De Mille who was a director of spectacular talent even till the end of his career in 1950s. He was known for his intolerance, conservatism, naked and dangerous racism. As regards this, his passionate naiveté could often bring out unintentional evil results like in the film The Birth of a Nation (1915) that suggested the seeds of dissension by bringing Africans to America. But De Mille’s the most impressive silent spectacle film Joan the Woman (1916), it was more modest than The Ten Commandments and King of Kings. He developed a moral argument pressing for peace, understanding and kindness for the poor and underprivileged. He seized on various subjects from women’s lib to Jesus Christ. (Higham 49) The major silent comedies of Lloyd, Keaton, Langdon and Chaplin were devoid of photographic invention, handled the actors in such a way that their talent and script appeared virtually in entirety rather in fragmentation. Keaton’s films gave an illusion of camera mobility and Llyod had the surest command of the energy and vitality not of camera movement or of editing but of movement within the frame. Chaplin included a degree of theatrical consciousness. He was handicapped by slow pace and romantic softness, which other comedy directors had. Chaplin enacted the character’s details with his keen artistic and imaginary vision, and emphasized objects- jewels, shoes, movements of hands, though his direction did not have De Mille’s energy. (Higham 52) Ernst Lubitsch, a brilliant young European director, influenced by these two and laid the whole basis of sophisticated comedy when talkies came along. While Griffith or an Ince strove for a degree of realism, Lubitsch and his imitators sought to capture for Americans the experience of seeing a polished European theatrical production. (Higham 53) In the era of silent films, Von Stroheim’s directed his spectacular misanthropy in the movie Greed (1918) in which the scenes portrayed squalor, corruption, extreme intimate relationships, the horror and hopelessness of the human condition. Von Sternberg’s Last Command (1927) remains the greatest film of the 14
  15. 15. silent era because of its daring, pitiless and sophisticated presentation of the social condition, which was harsh and real and that inspired New York to come with talkies like a stinging Atlantic breeze. (Higham 80) The advent of the sound films resulted in a reversal to almost uniformly theatrical techniques. It happened because of the enormous success of radio which provided competition among the filmmakers and audiences who wanted to hear the voices of their idols, Broadway stars (who were mainly legends of outside of New York). They were tired of the tedious versions of Broadway plays without dialogue or with laborious titles that interrupted dramatic scenes. Griffith was the first to see the potential in talkies and in May 1921 he used it in his film Dream Street at the New York Town Hall. Lee de Forest made a number of short talkie films. The Warner brothers were the first to develop the medium, worked in collaboration with the Bell laboratories to provide synchronized sound for the feature Don Juan (1926) directed by Alan Crosland. The screenings were a major success, the sound recorded on discs which were played in and relayed from the projection booth. William Fox of the Fox studios competed successfully with sound on film achieved his first triumph by giving an audience at the Roxy Theatre in New York the excitement of hearing Lindy’s motors roar before he took for Paris.( Higham 86) Early talkies bore a striking resemblance to television, presented chiefly in medium shots and in sustained takes. Backdrop used to be fixed in stage sets, while music was applied in Broadway production sense in the Hollywood setting. Lewis Milestone was the famous figure to make talkie films such as The Front Page (1913), All Quiet, Rain (1932), Of Mice and Men (1940), Kangaroo (1952). Henry Hathaway’s Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936) was the first three-color picture shot out of doors, alive with genuine feeling for the American wilderness, harking back in its formal groupings, beams of light slanting through trees, and sweeping panoramas to the earliest Griffiths. (Higham: 132) His most accomplished film was Niagara (1953) a debut for Marliyn Monroe, it was infact a masterly example of fluid screen narrative, as intricate and complex as anything in the sound cinema. Hawks who began his career in silent films, won praise for Rio Bravo (1939), Hatari! (1962) and El Dorado (1967). 15
  16. 16. A number of directors, who shifted to filmmaking from the stage, were greatly influenced by European models. On celluloid these pictorial artists of thirties provided an intense visual feeling of a glittering, sumptuous, and original series of images in order to delight audience. Among the most brilliant of these was Rouben Mamoulian, whose masterpieces were Love me Tonight (1932) and The Mark of Zorro (1940). Rouben stood as equal fine craftsman as the cameraman Arthur Miller, and the results were spectacularly good. Another director with a strong theatrical background was the British James Whale, whose Show Boat with Paul Robeson was his most purely cinematic film effectively using a back lot ambience to create an illusion of a Mississippi setting (Higham 160). Mamoulian, Whale, West, Browning, William K. Howard, and Jean de Limur were originators in matters of technique and presentation, chiefly interested in visuals, in exploring the medium in new ways. Their command of dialogue, pacing and emphasis, often left something to be desired. Another group of directors – William Wyler, George Cukor and Frank Capra – showed a peerless command of screen conversation, evidence from the very outset (Higham 169). Wyler, who was from Germany, used theatrical techniques in the excellent movie Counsellor at Law (1933). There was a complete sense of geography setting, and the tiny details of characterization of a human being. Cukor’s Dinner at Eight (1933) was a version of first major film in style and sharpness. Both Cukor and Frank Capra delineated the view of politics and the common man was caricatured; morality was presented in blacks and whites (Higham 188). Frank Capra’s films such as Lost Horizon (1937), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Meet John Doe (1941), It’s a Wonderful Life were some of the best pictures of moralistic fantasy (Higham 195). Classical Hollywood Films In the first half of the twentieth century the classical Hollywood film was the dominant popular form through which the bourgeoisie increasingly represented itself, its values, and the working classes-to whom cinema was largely addressed. Hollywood became the site in which the ideas of the classical developed in relation to drama and the novel as transparent forms reflecting social reality but they appeared in tension with the sensationalism and melodrama (Kaplan 272). The ‘melodrama’ meant to be the mode of 16
  17. 17. hysteria or subjectivity, to unleash the social reality ‘in terms of an empirical notion of truth’ (MacCabe 8) Therefore the modern consciousness changed the notion of melodrama in order to perceive the dominant ideology of Bourgeoise class in classical dramas and novels. ‘It was a sort of their displacement mechanism to efface completely the anxieties occasioning their surface melodramas’ (Ray 176). By 1940 the term ‘pre-code’ referred to a long-lost Golden Age of sophistication. Throughout the 1940s the sentimental values of the silent period returned in full force, and the mood of the country at war brought about a degree of flag-waving and jingoism harking back to the time of the first world conflict and the popular epics of the late 1920s. By 1940 the industry was virtually emasculated. In the 1940s the power of the director reduced. It became the principle of most major studios to cast directors along with players. During the 1940-50 decade many directors were subservient to producers. MGM, Paramount, and all others limited the influence of directors, and made it the duty of the production staff to select the story, collaborate on the screenplay with the writers, choose the casts, have the entire production fully ready, and edit the film when shooting was completed. The director could be replaced by other contractees, if there is any sort of displeasure on both sides. Of the independent producers of the 1940s, the two most influential were Samuel Goldwyn and David O. Selznick. Both exercised considerable personal control over their productions, both signed directors, players, and writers to long term contracts and made a policy of loaning them out (Higham 200). Gone With the Wind was incomparable production film of Selznick and other films with Jennifer Jones were especially Portrait of Jennie. Victor Schertzinger’s Forgotten Faces and Topaze, Cooper and Schoedsack’s The Four Feathers and Cukor’s What Price Hollywood, David Copperfield and Dinner at Eight; Norman Taurog’s beautiful color film The Adventure of Tom Sawyer; Hitchcock’s Rebecca; and John Cromwell’s Since You Went Away were the best of the World War II home front pictures. Goldwyn made quite good films, including Frank Llyod’s Madame X; Wyler’s Wuthering Heights; Irving Reis’ Enchantment; Archie Mayo’s They Shall Have Music and Wyler’s Dodsworth. The classical cinema from 1920s to 1960s tended to the centering of the film spectator as master of a visual field, and decoder of narrative puzzles, and a viewing process in which 17
  18. 18. the spectator remains immobile and loses all sense of surroundings, in thrall to an illusion of reality deriving from psychological regression (Baudry, 1986). The 1940’s and after the producers were Hal Wallis, Henry Blake, Victor Saville, Arthur Freed and Pandro S. Berman. Due to a prevailing fashion the problem film loomed large in the decade such as Edward Dymtryk’s Crossfire (1947) on racial prejudice; Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) concerned anti-Semitism; Hathaway’s Kiss of Death (1947) had accounts of crime in the big city; Anatole Litvak’s The Snake Pit (1946) dealt with madness; Wyler’s The Best Years of our Lives (1947) with the problem of war veterans; Michael Gordon’s Gambles (1948) and An Act of Murder (1948) with gambling mania and euthanasia. Literary adaptations reflected the spread of mass education. Among the best of these were Robert Stevenson’s Jane Eyre (1944); Robert Z Leonard’s Pride and Prejudice; Jophn Hodeman’s Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948); Henry King’s The Black Swan (1942); Captain from Castle (1947). Westerns included fine new works by Ford and those rousing accounts of frontier life were Tay Garnett’s Seven Sinners (1940) and Ray Enright’s The Spoilers (1942). Post War Changes in Hollywood Films The post-war changes in the Hollywood aesthetics consist of the end of studio system, production system and the action-oriented theatres in the 1950s. The thematic paradigm shifted to artistic self-consciousness, seriousness and the spectacle related to taboosubject matter. The cinematic devices, narrative complexity and inclusion of adaptations of Broadway hits and best-selling novels, technological innovations restored American popular culture and the new Hollywood engaged in the turning out a standard product of mass consumption. At the same time, Hollywood abandoned the traditional image of the American male as mature, active, efficient, graceful, and stoic and instead concentrated on a new type of masculinity, represented by Montogomery Clift, Marlon Brando, James Dean because the young audience of 1950s questioned the traditional values and lifestyles and felt that such heroes’ actions gave rise to the social problem of juvenile delinquency and these actors provoked violent audience reactions and kids especially got 18
  19. 19. affected with such romantic heroes. The cinematic experience observed the shift from movie going habit to habitual consumption of audiovisual entertainment to television. In December 1967 Time magazine officially announced a ‘renaissance’ in American film culture exemplified by Bonnie and Clyde (1967/ 1971: 333-325). The magazine’s cover story outlined a ‘new cinema, which originated in Europe and which ‘Hollywood has at long last become part of’. According to the article, ‘American audiences had been prepared for change and experiment both by life and art’, in particular by ‘the questioning of moral traditions, the demythologizing of ideals, the pulverizing of esthetic principles’ in painting, music, and literature, and also by the familiarity with complex forms of audiovisual communication engendered by television Hollywood’s first attempt was to satisfy the art-house and the cult audience who wanted the frank portrayals of the American situation. To generate the industry’s entertainment capacity, the focused shifted to ‘problem pictures that encompassed the blending of serious social consciousness of the foreign movies with old-fashioned storytelling. The pictures portrayed the veterans’ struggles (The Pride of the Marines, The Best Years of Our Lives, The Men) and the movies on racial prejudice (Crossfire, Gentleman’s Agreement, Pinky, Intruder in the Dust, Home of the Brave, The Defiant Ones, Imitation to Life, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner) There were films on the sufferings of the maltreated patients (The Snaker Pit) on alchohol or drug addiction (Come back, Little Sheba; The Man with the Golden Arm), teenage gangs (Blackboard Jungle, Rebel Without a Cause) and movies on the atomic threat (On the Beach, Fail Safe) and on the problems of command ( Twelve O’ Clock High, The Caine Mutiny). These problem pictures made big business in postwar period of Hollywood industry than they had done in the classical period of Hollywood cinema. The most enduring of the problem pictures was On the Waterfront that revealed the surfaced anxieties of cultural fear and selfimage , (American mythology’s most treasured heroes were merely romantized versions of the bum) westerns’ frontier tradition, social problem of union corruption, westerns’ ambivalence to law. Robbe- Grillet writes: What Hollywood had learned to do extremely well- comedy, musicals, genre westerns and crime pictures, melodramas, popularizations of classics- did not provide many lessons for a new era of seriousness and responsibility. Holly wood’s triumph had been overwhelmingly a triumph of formula, and the novelty 19
  20. 20. and freshness of American commercial movies had come from the inventive new ways in which formulas were reshaped to meet the times. Formulas worked beautifully in their place-and continue to do so-but formulas and significant social themes did not fix effectively… (Cobbet, 1982 and Charles, 1977) The Two movies in particular represented the postwar American mood and Hollywood’s responses to it. Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) manifested the growing disconcern for traditional values and affirming at the same time the Classic Hollywood pattern of reconciliation. Therefore the Cinema’s formal conventions showed a paradigm shift in the pattern of cinematic language during the unfolding of actions in the movies. The movie It’s a Wonderful life was remarkably a sentimental one and turned on three basic oppositions central to American culture in general and to the American postwar mood in particular: adventure/domesticity, individual/community, and worldly success / ordinary life. Frank Capra depicted these oppositions of illusion and reality. (Gunning 261) Miriam Hansen attempted to theorize the exclusion of working-class, immigrant audiences and women from public sphere. On critical formulations of Habermas’s concept, these subjects were as necessary to discuss with the rise of capitalism and with the advent of modern commercialized technological forms of media. Hansen writes that ‘the experience of the participants which mediates individual perception with social meaning, conscious with unconscious processes, loss of self with self reflexivity (Hansen 12) The critics developed the idea of oppositional or proletarian public spheres so that “collective viewing of films and expression of viewers’ experience could be possible in cinema.” (Negt and Kluge, 1993) The Blacks in American / Afro-American Cinema During the 1960s and 1970s, the desirability of cultural pluralism replaced the earlier goal of total assimilation into the great melting pot, in order to realize the natural sense of roots. This happened due to the spectacular centennial celebration of the Statue of Liberty in 1986 to commemorate the immigrant heritage. Sollors writes that a unique American culture evolves from non-American pasts: “Works of ethnic literature…..read not only as 20
  21. 21. expressions of mediation between cultures but also as handbooks of socialization into the codes of Americanness………….”(Sollors, 1991) Sollors appropriated W.E.B. DuBois’s use of Emerson’s original term doubleconsciousness, saying that ethnic texts invariably speak both to outsiders and to insiders; they mediate between one ethnic group and the rest of America. Paradoxically, then, these works perform two seemingly different functions; maintaining symbolic social distinctions and accentuating common American values. They endow the “diverse population of the United States with a shared sense of destiny…..” On account of the text involvement with cultural and ethnic aspects of the American society, there was a sort of schizophrenia among the viewers and among the filmmakers as regards the esoteric clashes for the ethnic conceptions of ethnic group membership. There was continual depiction of predetermined conditions as race, religion, and national origin, which were symbolically presented through recognizable signs (e.g. speech, dress, food choices, a virtual collage of skin colors and mannerisims). Hollywood super-imposed Americanness as a self-ascription category and their value-orientation totally dominated any primordial ethnic conditions. According to these Films, such as Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), (a jewish movie against anti-Semitism) provided insight that outward ethnic markings might/may be predetermined, but inner ethnic values are self-ascriptive. It also provided insight into Hollywood’s consistent approach to making pictures that focus on minority-group members: the basic problems of all ethnic groups are seen as substantially identical. (Friedman 19) Manthia Diawara one of the black intellectuals engaged with strands of the discourse of Black cultural studies, a project begun in Britain in the early ‘80s by figures such as Stuart Hall and Paul Gilroy. However, Diawara propounded a brand of Black Cultural Studies that took into account the material conditions of Black people in the America in order not to replicate the British formulations. He wrote in this context in “Black Studies / Cultural Studies: Performative Acts” in AfterImage. He was interested in the “unfinished business of black modernity” and the ways in which African diasporic cultural production confused the simple periodization of modernity and post-modernity. However, Diawara’s formulations regarding Blackness put him squarely in the field of 21
  22. 22. the “strategic essentialists” (to borrow a phrase from Gayatri Spivak). Thinkers from this school (who include Arthur Jafa, Greg Tate, Tricia Rose and others) were concerned with privileging Blackness in all its forms and doing away with reductive, monolithic conceptions of Black culture. He related strongly to the work of Paul Gilroy and Houston A. Baker, Jr. who were concerned with Black modernity. The “strategic essentialist” position retained a strong interest in the hidden histories and continuities in Black cultural production without recourse to narrower, pathological and biological notions of cultural purity. He questioned Black spectatorship in relation to the traditional Hollywood spatial paradigms. His path breaking essays on contemporary Black film, contributed much to the expanding body of work on Black film. He wrote that the pioneering work of Oscar Micheaux and Wallace Thurman had played a remarkable role in the development of the American film, both independent and mainstream. A Black film tradition formed the relation between Black American filmmakers and filmmakers from the diaspora, the nature of Black film aesthetics, the artist’s place within the community, and the representation of a Black imaginary. Black American Cinema by Diawara Manthia also uncovered the construction of Black sexuality on screen, the role of Black women in independent cinema, and the specific question of Black female spectatorship. A lively and provocative group of essays debate the place and significance of Spike Lee and other filmmakers in the Hollywood. The essays analyzed those Black directors who worked for Hollywood and whose films were simplistically dismissed as sell-outs, to the Hollywood “master narrative,” as well as those “crossover” filmmakers whose achievements entail a surreptitious infiltration of the studios. Black American Cinema demonstrates the wealth of the Black contribution to American film and the complex course that contribution has taken. Black American Cinema presents state-of-the-art scholarship on black filmmakers and filmmaking and the changing representation of African Americans on screen, from a rereading of “Birth of a Nation” as a horror film to an examination of black experimental film form and community. The impressive group of film scholars including Carroll Parrott Blue, Terri Francis, Michael B. Gillespie, Ed Guerrero, Keith Harris, Paula Massood, Charlie Musser, Mark Reid, Charlene Regester, and Robert Stam, also explore 22
  23. 23. the globalization of black cinema and the on-screen treatment of major themes in African American culture such as exile and diaspora. Daiwara Manthia alleged that women, bad guys, and detectives in film noir were “Black” by virtue of occupying indeterminate and monstrous spaces that Whiteness traditionally reserved for Blackness. In film noir there was clearly an oppositional discourse between dark and light, underworld and above ground, good and evil and it was through the blurring of these boundaries that characters emanated the attributes of Blackness. From a formalist perspective, a film was noir if it put into play light and dark in order to exhibit a people who became “Black” because of their low moral behavior. As a formalist device, Feminist criticism exposed film noir’s attempt to paint White women as “Black” in order to control their agency and self-fashioning. Marxist criticism, too, equated the noirification of film style and characters in the genre with pessimism and the decay of the capitalist system. It was in this sense, Mike Davis stated that “noir was like a transformational grammar turning each charming ingredient of the boosters’ arcadia into a sinister equivalent. Thus, in Horace McCoy’s They Shoot Horses Don’t They? (1935) “the marathon dance hall on Ocean Pier became virtually a death camp for the depression’s lost souls” (Manthia 38). The attempt to look to the noirification of characters and subject matter as Marxism manqué by the creators of the noir style was also echoed by Carl Richardson, in an excellent study of the subject entitled Autopsy: An Element of Realism in Film Noir. For Richardson, film noir derived its realism from a sense of pessimism, a light cast on the dark background created by the Depression. He opined that “It is traumatic for an individual to lose a set of beliefs. For a world-wide coterie of intellectuals and artists, it is a dark, frustrating process. It is a film noir on a large scale” (Manthia 183). Another side to film noir criticism was complicated through ethnicity and the present crisis in American cities that involved the description of such films about Black people, or directed by Black filmmakers. Diawara Manthia said that the new Black directors appropriated film noir styles, among others, to create the possibility for the emergence of new and urbanized Black images on the screen. Whereas the first epigraph taken from the 23
  24. 24. book by Borde and Chaumeton describes film noir as purely a style which used the tropes of Blackness as metaphors of White characters’ moral transgressions, and falls from grace, the second epigraph from Chester Himes’s A Rage in Harlem focused the noir style on Black people themselves. For Borde and Chaumeton, film noir was Black because the characters had lost the privilege of Whiteness by pursuing life styles that were misogynistic, cowardly, duplicitous, and an eroticization of violence. Himes, on the other hand, opposed the images of Riverside Church and buildings of Columbia University and Harlem—that had been imposed on Black people through social injustice, and that needed to be exposed to the light. Himes’s text was a protest novel which subverted its main tenets—i.e., Blackness as a fall from Whiteness. For Himes, Black people are living in hell and White people in heaven not because the one color was morally inferior to the other, but because Black people were held as captives in the valley below the towers of Riverside Church. The noirs in Himes’s text were Black people trapped in the darkness of White captivity, and the light shed on them was meant to render them visible, not White. From Oscar Micheaux to Spike Lee, Black Americans had been deeply involved in the film industry of Hollywood. Black actors and filmmakers, film historians and Black film centers had focused national attention on the neglected contributions of Black actors, technicians, and entrepreneurs. The contemporary contributions of Eddie Murphy, Spike Lee and Robert Townsend were reflections of a history in the silent film era and the breakthrough movie, The Homesteader (1918), the first film directed by a Black, Oscar Micheaux. The first all-black Hollywood film was Hallelujah! and Hearts of Dixie (1929). He explored the racist notion that Blacks were docile, and rhythmic. Four years later, Paul Robeson, a law school graduate who went on to become a renowned actor, singer, orator and Black rights activist, shattered that image when he starred in the movie Emperor Jones. Meanwhile, all-Black casts backed by White producers imitated Hollywood themes successfully. In 1938, Harlem on the Prairie became the first Black Western film. The following year civil rights leaders decried the “Old South” mentality depicted in Gone With the Wind. Nevertheless, that film provided a milestone of sorts for Blacks. Hattie McDaniel became the first Black to win an Oscar for her supporting role 24
  25. 25. of “Mammy.” During the “soft” period of filmmaking in the 1940s, there were few Blacks on the screen. In 1942, Walt Disney produced Song of the South. The most memorable thing about the film was that James Baskett received a special award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his “Uncle Remus” role. By contrast, during the post-war era, Hollywood addressed racial problems for the first time when James Edwards portrayed a Black soldier in Home of the Brave (1949). One year later, Sidney Poitier made his screen debut as a medical intern in No Way Out. And audiences raved over Dorothy Dandridge’s performance in Carmen Jones, for which she earned a best actress nomination in 1954. She was the first Black actress thus honored. Moviegoers also expected good scripts, and the dawn of the ‘60s ushered in writers such as John Killens, who wrote Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) for Harry Belafonte’s own Harbel Productions, Louis Peterson (Take a Giant Step, 1961) and Lorraine Hansberry, an award-winning playwright. Hansberry’s screen adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun (1961) featured Poitier enacting the role of Walter Lee, a chauffeur dissatisfied with his lot. The experimental attitude of the ‘60s created the climate for One Potato, Two Potato (1964), the first film to tackle interracial marriage. Bernie Hamilton’s uncompromising performance was well received. Ivan Dixon, too, garnered warm reviews for his independent film, Nothing But a Man (1964). But it was Poitier, with his ubiquitous presence, who left his mark on the decade—establishing himself as the top box office draw with such films in 1967 as In The H eat of the Night, To Sir with Love, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and For Love of Ivy (1968). According to Franklin, the renaissance age of Black films started in 1969 with Gordon Parks’ autobiographical The Learning Tree. It matured in 1970 with Ossie Davis’ Cotton Comes to Harlem. It spawned Van Peebles, as writer, producer and director of the controversial Sweet Sweetback Baadassss Song (1971), whose success generated a passel of Black films. In 1972, Hollywood got the formula of potential in “blaxploitation” (it was the film industry’s cynical exploitation of black stereotypical black sex, violence, and misogyny) which was deemed to exploit Black audiences ( Lyne 6). The early ‘70s produced a flood of Black films like Blacula (1973) the first horror film starring William Marshall; Buck and the Preacher, Western, Melinda, directed by Hugh Robertson; Hollywood’s first Black editor Hammer’s Sounder (1972) with Cicely Tyson and Lady Sings the Blues (1974). Raymond St. Jacques 25
  26. 26. continued the Black theme in 1973 with The Book of Numbers. Former EBONY Fashion Fair model Richard Roundtree scored big in Shaft (1971). Black women also played significant roles in the production process. “Women like Maya Angelou, the first Black woman director [Georgia, Georgia, 1972] should be remembered in the same breath as other filmmakers,” declares Zeinabu Davis, a documentary filmmaker. Euzhan Palcy, for example, was probably the first black woman to direct a major studio film A Dry White Season (1989), and Julie Dash was acclaimed for Daughters of the Dust (1991) In the late ‘70s and ‘80s, some Blacks, notably Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, made an extraordinarily strong impact in the Hollywood mainstream. Pryor, whose films credits included Uptown Saturday Night (1974), Silver Streak (1976), Bustin’ Loose (1981) and his many comedy concerts, signed an unprecedented $40 million agreement with Columbia Pictures in 1983. The ‘70s and ‘80s ushered in a new period of Black filmmaking. Spike Lee, sounded the dominant theme of the new age with an independent production, She’s Gotta Have It (1986). In quick succession, he produced and directed School Daze (1998), Do The Right Thing (1989), Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever (1991) and the epic Malcolm X (1992) Willie Burton received an Oscar for best sound effects (Bird), and Russell Williams received two Oscars for best sound effects in Glory and Dances With Wolves. A major factor in the new Black film renaissance was the increasing weight of Black filmgoers who make up only 12 percent of the population but who used to buy, according to one study, 35 percent of all movie tickets. Partly for this reason and partly because of the rising tide of color, movie corporate was increasingly willing to cut independent deals with Blacks filmmakers and to give Black stars like Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover and Whoompi Goldberg major roles in largely White blockbuster movies. Despite these gains, Hollywood was still, as the NAACP said in a recent report, “Out of Focus—Out of Sync.” The report deplored the white-out of Blacks in technical areas and the almost complete absence of Blacks in decision-making positions at major studios. Hollywood was also skewed in other directions, for there was still a tendency, even among Black filmmakers, to focus almost entirely on Black singers, dancers and gang- 26
  27. 27. bangers, to the exclusion of strong and loving Black fathers and mothers and competent Black professionals and leaders. To correct these and other inequities, the NAACP and major voices in Black America called for a re-evaluation of the role of Blacks in Hollywood and the role of Hollywood in Black America. And as 1992 ended, with the blockbuster success of Spike Lee’s Malcolm X and the individual successes of stars like Whitney Houston (The Bodyguard) and Eddie Murphy (The Distinguished Gentleman), there were increasing indications that Black filmmakers and filmgoers were entering a new and still uncharted realm. It was realized by the conservatives that for young blacks racism is nothing than an anachronism, so it is no longer culpable for the degraded plight of Black people. Thus the aim should not be to grow racism or to appropriate racism, but to have victory for the political rights. (Sheridan 177- 192) Feminism in Films 'Feminism' is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. It relates with the organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests. Feminists do not accept the cultural images of women as incompetent, petty, irresponsible, or weak. Instead they believe that women have capacities to be strong, capable, intelligent, successful, ethical human beings. The do not value male-oriented structures and codes to undermine women’s strength. According to them certain emotions of aggression, power, and competition are ascribed to men, while compassion, tenderness, and compromise to women as per conventional standards. But these qualities are as good and desirable as for both. (Ruth, 2011) The key concerns of First Wave Feminists were education, employment, the marriage laws, and the plight of intelligent middle-class single women. They were not primarily concerned with the problems of working-class women, nor did they necessarily see themselves as feminists in the modern sense (the term was not coined until 1895). First Wave Feminists largely responded to specific injustices they had themselves experienced. It was led by Mary Wollstonecraft (1850) Barbara Bodichon (1827-91) and Bessie Rayner Parkes (1829-1925). 27
  28. 28. The term 'Second Wave' was coined by Marsha Lear, and refers to the increase in feminist’s activity which occurred in America, Britain, and Europe from the late sixties onwards. In America, second wave feminism rose out of the Civil Rights and anti-war movements in which women, disillusioned with their second-class status and discrimination. The strove for interventions within the spheres of reproduction, sexuality and cultural representation, to change their domestic and private lives. In context of these waves in feminism the American cinema and the research studies done by feminist scholars regarded the importance of cinema as a new public sphere for women. The scholars were such as Laura Mulvey (1975) Lauren Rabinovitz (1990), Janet Staiger (1995), Judith Mayne (1990), Constance Balides (1993), and Shelley Stamp Lindsey (1996). They explored the role of female spectators and at point testing the feminist understanding of apparatus theory which saw the cinema as embodying a male gaze. The early male oriented films that had patriarchal and sexist content such as Thomas Edison’s Trapeze Disrobing Act, or Porter’s 1903 film The Gay Shoe Clark were then debated and even breached in the post-war Hollywood times. It marginalized and problematized the female subjectivity, but also traced the subject to be thought in terms of gendered being. On the other side Peter Brooks (1971) and Thomas Elsaesser (1972) expanded the concept of melodrama beyond the confines of a generalized type of aesthetic experience that produces specific emotional effects in the spectator on account of the loss of tragic vision that had been blurred by the Industrial Revolution and the creation of a society deprived of an organic and hierarchical order. (Brooks, 1976: 4) But in general case the melodrama convention works against the concept of classical, that implies dominant ideology (bourgeois ideology about the family in general than on the films specifically address). In contemporary American Cinema, such as Alien (1979) the gender stereotypes are within a violent framework, The female characters are depicted in action roles equipped with high-tech weaponry to destroy property and people, but the debate continues whether action heroines like Sarah Connor and Lara Croft have broken gender barriers in action films. It is found that they are not operating from outside the boundaries of 28
  29. 29. tradition rather they are constructed socially within the gender norms in the guidance and strength of the dominant male action character and end up rearticulating gender stereotypes. (Katy, 2010) Third Wave i.e. post-feminism strives to combat inequalities that [women] face as a result of [their] age, gender, race, sexual orientation, economic status or level of education. By empowering young women, Third Wave is building a lasting foundation for social activism around the country. Rebecca Walker, daughter of author Alice Walker and godchild of activist Gloria Steinem, enunciated this by saying, "I Am The Third Wave." (Ruth, 2011) From late 1980s to early 1990s the post-feminist films had concentrated on big-budget. Those films were Working Girl (Mike Nichols, 1987), Fatal Attraction (Adrian Lyne, 1987), Baby Boom (Charles Shyer, 1987), Pretty Woman (Gray Marshall, 1990), Thelma and Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991), Ghost (Jerry Zucker, 1991) and Basic Instinct (Paul Verhoeven, 1992) The contemporary films that explore post-feminism discourse are; Two recent movies featuring Latinas: Out of Sight (1998) by Steven Soderberg that suggest seduction of secrecy and affirmation of awesomeness and Real Women Have Curves (2000) by Patricia Cardosa which centered on a non-glamorous girl with what earlier post-feminist would have labeled a wrong body. She is zaftig and ethnic. There are J. Los’s movies, music videos or songs like 2003 Maid in Manhattan (Wayne Wang, 2002) and Pretty Woman gives post-feminist stalwarts a new ethnic makeover from rags to riches like Cindrella plot. But Soderberg’s Erin Brockovich (2000) is unlike these features of women; there Erin rescued herself with her dogged-determination and sweat rather any prince charming lifting her up from rags to riches. There is credibility and enthusiasm in the character. There are other post-feminists films such as Legally Blonde (Robert Luketic, 2001) and Charlie Angels (MCG, 2000) that problematize the “Sexpots” that played by the actors of women of color, blacks and whites, Latinos and Asians, men and women, young and old, gays and straights in the United States and around the world in action movies. The 29
  30. 30. question before technology is how to preserve the actors’ image ‘pure’ while capturing the twinning of the actors in order to attain the ambitions of the film’s address and attractions of the lusty gaze of audience. Eco- Criticism in American Films Eco-critics seek ‘human-self liberation’ (Clark 102) in place of liberation. Human selfliberation condemns the exploitative conquest of nature in the name of progress and modernization. They look to the progressive enlightenment tradition and eco-justice and they profess that human should overcome their prejudice and injustice against the environment. Environmentalists advocate the issue of the rights not only to natural resources but also to the animals, birds and even in some case landscapes. Liberation stands for liberty and rights in private and public sphere, that involves the politics of distinction between both as well as state is held to have no right to interfere in private matters of an individual. But the environmentalists have to go beyond the political and non-political matters to find the outlet for the protection of ecology. In this context ‘nature-writing is engaged with the factual and ethic of truthfulness while corresponding to the readers the human-animal or human-environmental degradation. The eco-critic Ulrich Beck states the framework of politics to protest local outrages or environmental threats in this way: In terms of social politics…the ecological crisis involves a systematic violation of basic rights, a crisis of basic rights whose long-term effect in weakening society can scarcely be underestimated. For dangers are being produced by industry, externalized by economics, individualized by legal system, legitimized by the natural sciences and made to appear harmless by politics. That this is breaking down the power and credibility of institutions only becomes clear when the system is put on the spot, as Greenpeace, for example, has tried to do. (Clark 87) These words of the critic reinforce the mentality of human who defend his outdoor leisure pursuits, privileged attitude, and wilderness as social overtones on one hand while on the other hand violate the basic rights by locating the waste plant near poor people living areas. Even sometimes the element of racism and social bigotry are found as recurrent 30
  31. 31. features in eco-injustice. Thus eco-criticism has sensitized and problematized the environmental issues, matters to public health and social discrimination. Henceforth Cultural Studies and Humanities have primarily prescribed environmental justice as social movement and have expanded the eco-criticism beyond nature writing and have incorporated their focus on the conceptions of human identity in relation to the environmental context in the ‘nature-oriented literature’. Therefore the reading and treating of fiction and non-fiction in varied notions of the environment now comes in the arena of competing cultural representations, cultural contexts and identity claims. Ironically social ecology in contemporary cultural criticism according to Greg Garrard is: ‘Human violence against the natural world is ultimately a product of oppressive structures of hierarchy among human beings’. It seems clearly that the eco-justice and cultural difference are aligned in the eco-critical arguments. For example the book titled The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845) from the collection of Beyond Nature Writing, on one hand confirm the issues of racial identity, and the authority of the author, but at the same time it indicates the concern with the environmental justice wherein the association of rural landscapes with the hated cotton plantation is seen to inform an element of anti-pastoral in African American Writing. The above reference delineates the class conflicts, power relations and authority of elites and manhood in the goals of techno-economic progress as well as the clash over mutually recognized rights. The fundamental politics in the difference between modes of life and environmental criticism has long been in the struggling period in literature and culture, which too affected by personal affluence and lifestyle. Richard Kerridge has studied this mismatch of environmental issues and individual dominant in contemporary culture in relation to some environmental eco-thrillers and films such as Jurassic Park (1993), Water World (1995) or Paul’s Watkins novel Archangel (1995). He writes that these movies evade imponderable complexities of environmental issues; instead they resort to traditional plots of individual heroism pitted again simplistically immoral antagonists. Even the film The Day After Tomorrow (2004) also reflected upon the kind of macho individualistic heroism and sentimentality against industrial capitalism, besides showing the compressing climate change and disastrous 31
  32. 32. results. Thus these filmic text are not yet into portraying the injustices explicitly inflicted upon the environment and the contemporary devastation is still away from considering the ‘harm to environmental goods’ and the culture of individualist liberalism may be a stake in reading the literary and cultural archives correspond to physical world of human and non-human relationship. (Clark 109) Gender and Ecology in Films The level of self-sufficiency is defined as freedom from dependency on society and is essentially determined by social convention. Nevertheless, there is an inescapable ecological dimension to the intersection of work and self-sufficiency that takes into account the social, spatial, and institutional context of work and the worker. The interpersonal aspects of an ecology of work have to do with absence of violence in the family, reference group support for work, and the presence or absence of supportive structures, such as child care and child supervision when the parent is at work (Gowdy and Perlmutter, 1993). The workplace supports in addressing the issue of self-sufficiency for single-parent welfare families (Parker, 1994). Such supports include employee benefits and a supportive work environment. It is important to understand the domains where welfare-reliant women exhibit commitment to work. They see work as a legitimate way of providing for self and family, to improve their situation in life, and to have more and better things for themselves and their children. There are many impediments as regards social ecology such as patriarchal and hierarchical dominance and interference at societal and individual levels. Besides that there are well-known barriers include lack of job skills, low educational attainment, single-parent households and heavy family responsibilities, severely limited employment opportunities in local communities, lack of reliable transportation, and lack of quality affordable child care, moving to full-time paid labour services. Mostly the welfare reliant population is stereotyped and uniformly deficient in its work ethic. It is found that men rarely figured into sources of help to look after the children as fathers or as the paternal relatives. 32
  33. 33. In context of the social ecology and the gender role, the eco-feminist finds an analogy in the domination of nature and in the domination of women by men. The critics of ecofeminism attempt to reduce the social hierarchies and the pressure of capitalist economy both on woman’ lives and on nature. In a way eco-feminism is an intersection of science, technology, and environmental and feminist concerns. This complex relationship has emerged as an issue to interact with all the stakeholders of humanity and to protect environment, to develop meaningful ethics in economic phenomenon. The selected films such as The Color Purple (1985) and Erin Brockovich (2000) undertaken for research study implicate in the film narrative comprehension to eliminate suppression and violence on women’s lives on the pretext of gender and sex, on human beings due to racism, gay-bashing and anti-Semitism. The destruction of biosphere for any selfish ends in the western culture isolates women from men, nature from human beings, erodes community life and meaningful existence. The liberation of women and collective consciousness for sustaining nature and its resources for the benefit of all can reduce poverty; improve life of commons and reserve landscapes beauty and originality. The eco-feminist explicates the ‘myth of progress’ which is ironically considered by some misogynist as ‘myth of regress’ or a rebel on the part of women who want to relieve themselves from the personality traits of reproductive and sexual biology ( Biehl 2-3 & 55). The Directors, the Producers and Actors of the Selected Films Steven Spielberg is perhaps the Hollywood's best known director and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. Spielberg has countless big-grossing, critically acclaimed credits to his name, as producer, director and writer. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1946. He went to California State University Long Beach, but dropped out to pursue his entertainment career. As an Assistant Director he gained popularity on the classic western "Wagon Train" (1957). His early directed film was Battle Squad (1961), which combined World War II footage with footage of an airplane on the ground that he made the viewers believe that it was moving. He also directed 33
  34. 34. Escape to Nowhere (1961), which featured children as World War Two soldiers, including his sister Anne Spielberg. The Last Gun (1959), was on western culture. All of these were short films. In 1964, he directed Firelight (1964), about aliens invading a small town. In 1967, he directed Slipstream (1967), which was unfinished. However, in 1968, he directed Amblin' (1968), which featured the desert prominently. Amblin' also became the name of his production company, which turned out such classics as The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Spielberg had a unique and classic early directing project Duel (1971) (TV), with Dennis Weaver. In the early 1970s, Spielberg was working on TV, directing among others such series as "Rod Serling's Night Gallery" (1969), "Marcus Welby, M.D." (1969) and "Columbo: Murder by the Book (1971). Spielberg's first major directorial effort as a rising star was The Sugarland Express (1974) with Goldie Hawn. Then Jaws (1975) a classic shark attack tale, acclaimed him the status of an international superstar in the direction of films. His next film was the classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), a unique and original UFO story. In 1978, Spielberg produced his first film, the forgettable I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978), and followed that effort with Used Cars (1980). Spielberg hit gold yet one more time with Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), with Harrison Ford taking the part of Indiana Jones. Spielberg produced and directed two films in 1982. The first was Poltergeist (1982), and the alien story The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Spielberg also helped pioneer for the practice of product placement, for example his famous (or infamous) placement of Reece's Pieces in "E.T." Spielberg was also one of the pioneers of the big-grossing special-effects movies, like "E.T." and "Close Encounters". In 1984, Spielberg followed up "Raiders" with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), which was a commercial success. As a producer, Spielberg took on many projects in the 1980s, such as The Goonies (1985), and Gremlins (1984). He also produced the cartoon An American Tail (1986), a quaint little animated classic. His biggest effort as producer in 1985, however, was the blockbuster Back to the Future (1985), which made Michael J. Fox an instant superstar. Spielberg tried his directorial skill on the book The Color Purple (1985), with Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey, with great success. In the latter half of the 1980s, he also directed Empire of the Sun (1987). 34
  35. 35. Spielberg had his hands on the projects in the late 1980’s on pop-culture. In 1988, he produced the landmark animation/live-action film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Tiny Toon Adventures" (1990), Animaniacs (1993), Pinky and the Brain (1995), Freakazoid! (1995), Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain (1998), Family Dog (1993) and Toonsylvania (1998). Spielberg also produced other cartoons such as The Land Before Time (1988), We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (1993), Casper (1995) (the live action version) as well as the live-action version of The Flintstones (1994). Then he produced and directed Always (1989), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Back to the Future Part II (1989). All three of the films were box-office hits. Also, in 1989, he produced the little known comedy-drama Dad (1989), with Jack Lemmon and Ted Danson. In the early 1990s, he directed other famous animation movies such as Hook (1991) and Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) and An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991). He also produced the unusual comedy thriller Arachnophobia (1990), Back to the Future Part III (1990) and Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990). In 1993, Spielberg directed Jurassic Park (1993), which for a short time held the record as the highest grossing movie of all time. He produced and directed Schindler's List (1993), a stirring film about the Holocaust. This film got him the Best Director and the Best Picture Award at the Oscars. In the mid-90s, he founded the production company DreamWorks, which was responsible for many box-office successes like American Beauty in 1999. As a producer, he was very active in the late 90s, responsible for such films as The Mask of Zorro (1998), Men in Black (1997) and Deep Impact (1998). However, it was on the directing front that Spielberg was in top form. He directed and produced the epic Amistad (1997), a spectacular film that was shorted at the Oscars and in release due to the fact that its release date was moved around so much in late 1997. The next year, however, produced what many believe was one of the best films of his career: Saving Private Ryan (1998), a film about World War Two that is spectacular in almost every respect. It was stiffed at the Oscars, losing best picture to Shakespeare in Love (1998). Spielberg produced a series of films, including Evolution (2001), The Haunting (1999) and Shrek (2001), and two sequels to Jurassic Park (1993), which were financially but not particularly critical successes. In 2001, he produced a mini-series about World War Two that definitely was a financial and critical success Also in that year, Spielberg was 35
  36. 36. back in the director's chair with A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001). Spielberg has been extremely active in films there are many other things he has done as well. He produced the short-lived TV series Sea Quest 2032 (1993), an anthology series entitled Amazing Stories (1985), created the video-game series Medal of Honor in (1994). Spielberg has a great interest in World War Two. He and Tom Hanks collaborated on Shooting War (2000) (TV), a documentary about World War II combat photographers, and he produced a documentary about the Holocaust called Eyes of the Holocaust (2000). (IMdb, Webpage) Steven Andrew Soderberg was born in Atlanta, on January 14, 1963. He is an American film producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, and an Academy Awardwinning film director. He is known popularly for directing commercial Hollywood films like Erin Brockovich, Traffic, and Ocean’s Eleven, but he has also directed smaller less conventional and commercialized works such as Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989), which he wrote in eight days. The independent film won him the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. He became a worldwide success and greatly contributed to the 1990s independent film revolution. At age 26, Soderberg became the youngest director to win the festival’s top award. Movie Critic Roger Ebert dubbed Soderberg the “poster boy of the Sundance generation”. His low budget films from 1993 to 1998 were: Kafka, a movie on biopic mixing fact and Kafka’s fictions (notably The Castle and The Trial ), written by Lem Dobbs and starring Jeremy Irons as Franz Kafka; King of the Hill (1993), a critically acclaimed Depression-era drama; The Underneath (1995), a remake of Robert Siodmak’s 1949 film noir Criss-Cross; Schizlpolis (1996), a comedy in which he starred; he wrote and composed it as well as he shot and directed it. He also directed the Spalding Gray monologue film Gray’s Anatomy in 1996. His commercial success touched to heights, when he came up with a film Out of Sight in 1998 a stylized adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel, written by Scott frank and starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. He made another crime caper, The Limey (1999), from an original screenplay by Lem Dobbs and starring veteran actors Terence Stamp and Peter Fonda. The film was well received but not as much as Erin Brockovich (2000), written by Susannah Grant and starring Julia Roberts in her Oscar Winning role as a single mother taking on industry in a civil action. Later that year Soderberg released Traffic, a social drama written by Stephen 36
  37. 37. Gaghan and featuring an ensemble cast. He is the only director to have been nominated for two films the same year as the Best Director for Traffic and for Erin Brockovich by the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes and the Directors Guild of America. The double nomination was the first in 60 years. Ocean’s Eleven is Soderberg’s highest grossing movie to date i.e. $183 million domestically and $450 million worldwide. The other films were Solaris (2000), Full Frontal (shot mostly on digital video in an improvisional style). In 2002 he was elected the First Vice-President of the Directors Guild of America. Then K.Street (2003) followed up, a ten-part political HBO series he co-produced with Clooney. In this fictional narrative, actual political players appeared as themselves, either in cameos or fictionalized versions of themselves (as were the leads, real life husband and wife (James Carville and Mary Matalin). He made Ocean’s Twelve (2004), a sequel to Ocean’s Eleven. He got The Good German Drama, a romantic drama set in post-war Berlin starring Cate Blanchett and Clooney in 2006. In 2007, the movie Ocean’s Thirteen was released with the sixth pairing of Clooney and Soderberg. Another highly commercial box-office hit was Bubble (2006) that earned him $1.6 million featuring a cast of nonprofessional actors. It opened in selected theatres and HDNet simultaneously and four days later on DVD. Theatre owners who at that time had been suffering from dropping attendance rates did not welcome so called “day and date movies”. He responded to such criticism: “I don’t think it’s going to destroy the movie-going experience any more than the ability to get take out has destroyed the restaurant business”. Although this movie did poor business both at the box-office and on the home video market, yet Soderberg is on contract to deliver five more day and date movies. In 2007, The Third Man, an audio commentary to the DVD was contributed by Soderberg and Tony Gilroy. On May 22, 2008, Che was released in theatres in two parts titled The Argentine and Guerrilla, which was presented in the Cannes film festival. Benicio del Toro played Argentine guerrilla (Ernesto “Che” Guevara) in an epic of four-hours, which showed the main protagonist’s role in the Cuban revolution before moving to his campaign and eventual death in Bolivia. 37
  38. 38. The film The Informant was released in September, 2009. It was Warner Brothers film worked with Soderberg and Matt Damon, who played the role of Mark Whitacre, a corporate whistleblower. In this movie, Whitacre wore a wire for two and a half years for the FBI as a high level executive at a Fortune 500 company. He tried to solve the largest price-fixing cases in history for Archer Daniels Midland. The script of the movie was written by Scott Z. Burns based on Kurt Eichenwald’s book – The Informant. In 2009, Soderberg directed a play titled Tot-Mom for the Sydney Theatre Company in Sydney, Australia. The play is based on the real-life case of Caylee Anthony. Soderberg also shot a small improvised film with the cast of the play, The Last Time I Saw Michael Gregg, a comedy about a theatre company staging Chekhov’s Three Sisters. He will direct the Action-Thriller Contagion, which based on a screenplay from Scott Z. Burns. His next directorial efforts and contributions will be available in a 3-D live-action rock musical film based on Cleopatra’s life, with Catherine Zeta-Jones and with music by the band Guided by Voices. Soderberg and scriptwriter James Greer will rewrite the lyrics of the songs to fit the story. On March 11, 2011, he announced on the National Public radio programme Studio 360, that after finishing his other two major production works, namely Liberace with Matt Damon and Michael Douglas and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with George Clooney, he would retire (Google Webpage). The Producer Alice Walker of the film The Colour Purple , was born on February 9, 1944 to sharecroppers, Willie Lee and Minnie Tallulah (Lou) Grant Walker in the farming community of Eatonton, GA. At the age of eight, Alice was accidentally blinded by one of her brothers while playing a game of "Cowboys and Indians." She was then ostracized for a period of five years as an outcast because of her scar. To deal with her feelings of loneliness, Alice begins to read and write poetry. At the age of fourteen, Alice was taken to a hospital in Boston to have the cataract in her eye removed. She becomes confident and her life is transformed. By 1960 she graduated from her high school class. She was voted as one of the most popular student. Alice Walker was awarded a scholarship to attend the historical African-American woman's institution, Spelman College. During her time at Spelman from 1961 to 1963 she participated in civil rights 38
  39. 39. movement as an activist. But she left Spelman College which she found too puritanical. She studied in Sarah Lawrence, Liberal Arts College in New York City in 1964. She travelled abroad during the summer to become an exchange student in Uganda. In the winter, during her last few months of school, Alice learnt that she was pregnant. For three days Alice slept with a razor blade underneath her pillow and contemplated suicide. A friend of hers located a doctor to help Alice get an abortion. After the abortion, Alice suffered from anxiety and depression. She wrote poems based on her experiences which she submitted to her writing teacher and mentor Muriel Rukeyser. Her professor submitted them to her agent for review. These poems became the basis of Alice's first book of poetry, Once, which could not be published until three years later. After graduation, she got elected queen of the prom. In 1965 she returned to the south to work in voter registration and promoting welfare rights in Georgia. She fell in love with Melvyn Rosenman Leventhal whom she married on March 17, 1967. Her husband later became an attorney who prosecutes civil rights’ cases in court. They move to Mississippi in becoming the state's first legally married interracial couple in history. She got her first short story, "To Hell with Dying," published, that was based in reaction to her depression. She went to Georgia in 1965 to extend help to black men and women. Then with the help of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Walker finished The Third Life of Grange Copeland in 1969 three days before her daughter, Rebecca Grant's birth. This was soon followed by her being nominated as the Writer in Residence at Jackson State University, where she taught Black Studies Courses. She got her book published in 1969.. She was appointed as a "Writer in Residence” at Tougaloo College in Mississippi in for two years. During the same period of her scholarly feats she researched for a short story on voodoo. Alice discovered the folk stories of Zora Neale Hurston. In 1972 she moved with her daughter Rebecca to Massachusetts where she taught at Wellesley College a course on African-American Women Studies, the first class of its kind in the country. She also taught classes at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. Her research on Hurston’s stories led her to fly down to Eatonville, FL, Zora Neale Hurston's birthplace and a tombstone without any mark or epitaph on it. Alice's second volume of poetry, Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems is published, along with her first short story collection, In Love and in Trouble: Stories of Black Women in 1973. In New York she 39
  40. 40. became a contributing editor at Ms. Magazine. Her book Langston Hughes: American Poet was published in 1974. She and her husband Mel Leventhal divorced amicably in 1974. Her novel Meridian was published in 1974, critics hailed it as one of the best novels to come out of the Civil Rights movement. Alice began to work on her third work of poetry, "Goodnight Willie Lee, I'll See You in the M. Alice Walker was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Grant. She left New York to settle in San Francisco to begin writing on her third novel. Her second collection of short stories came out You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down in 1981. Alice Walker's third Novel The Color Purple was published in 1982 and was nominated for a National Book Award. She then became a professor at University of California during the Spring and Bradeis University during the Fall. Her first collection of essays In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens was published in 1983. Her third collection of poems in 1984 Horses Make a Landscape More Beautiful. She began her publishing company with her long-time boyfriend, Robert Allen. In 1986 .The Color Purple premieres were done by Wild Trees Press on January 18 in her hometown of Eatonton, GA. The novel The Color Purple was written in an episolatory form. In other words, in the form of a letters of Celie, the main character writes a series of letters about the abuse she endures under her mother's husband as a child, and her own husband as an adult. The book was written in what Alice termed as "Black Folks English." It was the kind of speech that wouldn't intimidate men and women, like her mother, whom she knew all her life. But her mother only read a few pages and never got a chance to finish it. Her mother suffered a major stroke and as a result was never able to complete the novel that her daughter had written. Although she received a lot of praise for her novel, she received criticism from some in the African-American community who thought her novel portrayed black men in negative stereotypical fashion as abusers and rapists. Just like Zora Neale Hurston's critics during the Harlem Renaissance, some had not even read her book before offering attacks. Although she saw the critical attacks as being small-minded and ignorant, they still hurt none the less. Because of her soaring popularity nationally, Alice was offered a teaching position at University of California at Berkley in the spring of 1982 which she accepted. In the fall 40
  41. 41. she worked at Brandeis University. Alice earned an American Book Award for The Color Purple. She was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for fiction which she went on to win in 1983. She became the first African-American novelist to win the Pulitzer Prize. Her book went on to become a bestseller. During that same year, Alice released a series of essays, In Search of Our Mother's Garden's: a Womanist Prose. Susannah Rawson Grant, the screenwriter and the director in American Cinema. She was born on January 4, 1963 in New York City, New York, USA . She has a daughter, Olivia Henrikson (born 1999), and a son born in 2001, with Christopher Henrikson. She is an Amherst College alumna, having graduated in 1984. She later was accepted to the American Film Institute, and received the Nicholl Fellowship in screenwriting (New York Times, 2006) She wrote the screenplays for Ever After, Erin Brockovich, directed by Steven Soderbergh, 28 Days and Disney's Pocahontas. For Erin Brockovich, starring Julia Roberts, she received an Oscar nomination in 2001. After her nomination Grant adapted In Her Shoes and Charlotte's Web for the screen, as well as wrote and directed Catch and Release. Grant was featured in The Dialogue. Her other contributions are The Soloist (2009) and Burlesque (2010). Daniel Michael "Danny" DeVito, Jr. (born November 17, 1944) is an American actor, comedian, director, and producer. He first gained prominence for his portrayal of Louie De Palma on the ABC and NBC TV series Taxi (1978–1983), for which he won a Golden Globe and an Emmy. He and his wife, Rhea Perlman, founded Jersey Films, a production company known for films such as Pulp Fiction, Garden State, and Freedom Writers. He also owns Jersey Television, which produced the Comedy Central series Reno 911! DeVito and Perlman also starred together in his 1996 film Matilda, based on Roald Dahl's children's novel. He acted as Frank Reynolds in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Vito played Martini in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. He gained fame in 1978 as Louie De Palma, the short but domineering dispatcher for the fictional Sunshine Cab Company, on the hit TV show Taxi. After Taxi ended, he began a successful film career, starting with roles in 1983's Terms of Endearment, and as the comic rogue in the romantic adventure Romancing the Stone, starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, and its 1985 sequel, The Jewel of the Nile. In 1986, he starred in 41
  42. 42. Ruthless People with Bette Midler and Judge Reinhold, and in 1987, he made his featuredirecting debut with the dark comedy Throw Momma from the Train, in which he starred with Billy Crystal and Anne Ramsey. Two years later, he reunited with Douglas and Turner in The War of the Roses, which he directed and in which he co-starred. His work during this time includes Other People's Money with Gregory Peck, director Barry Levinson's Tin Men as a competitive rival salesman to Richard Dreyfuss' character, two co-starring vehicles with Arnold Schwarzenegger (the comedies Twins and Junior), and playing The Penguin as a deformed sociopath in director Tim Burton's Batman Returns (1992). Although generally a comic actor, he represented his acting into dramatic roles with The Rainmaker, Hoffa (1992), which he directed and in which he co-starred with Jack Nicholson, Jack the Bear (1993), L.A. Confidential, The Big Kahuna, and Heist (2001), as a gangster nemesis to Gene Hackman's character. He has an interest in documentaries: In 2006, he began a partnership with Morgan Freeman's company Michael Shamberg (born in 1945) is a Jewish American former Time-Life correspondent and current film producer. His credits include Erin Brockovich, A Fish Called Wanda, Garden State, Gattaca and Pulp Fiction. His production companies include Jersey Films, with Stacey Sher and Danny DeVito, and Double Feature Films, with his wife, Carla Santos Shamberg. In the 1960s and 1970s, counter-culture video collectives extended the role of the underground press to new communication technologies. In 1972, Shamberg co-founded a video collective called Raindance Corporation, which later became TVTV, or Top Value Television. The collective believed new technology could affect social change. Shamberg preferred the term Guerrilla television as the title of his 1971 book, because Guerrilla television is nonviolent, despite its strategies and tactics similar to warfare. He saw Guerrilla television as a means to break through the barriers imposed by Broadcast television, which he called beast television. The group urged for the use of Sony's Portapak video camera, introduced in 1968, to be merged with the documentary film style and television, and later pioneering the use of 3/4" video in their works. Shamberg will co-produce with Stacey Sher the film adaption of the British novel Paul Is Undead (Zombie Mash, 2006) Shamberg has a long association with influential Manchester group New Order and 42
  43. 43. produced numerous music videos for the band after meeting them in New York in 1980 including clips directed by filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Jonathan Demme (filmmaker Magazine.com). Stacey Sher is an American film producer. He was born in New York but raised in Fort Lauderdale, Sher is a graduate of University of Southern California's (USC) Peter Stark Producing Program. In 1985 she became the director of development at Hill/Obst Productions. In 1987 she became Vice President of Production. In 1991 she became Senior Vice President at Lynda Obst Productions.[ Her credits include Along Came Polly, Erin Brockovich, Pulp Fiction, Reality Bites, Matilda, and The Skeleton Key. She will co-produce with Michael Shamberg the film adaption of the British novel Paul is Undead. Julia Fiona Roberts (born on October 28, 1967) is an American actress. Julia made her first big screen appearance in the film Satisfaction, released on February 12, 1988. She had previously performed a small role opposite her brother, Eric, in Blood Red filmed in 1987 and released in 1989. Her first television appearance was as a juvenile rape victim in the initial season of the series Crime Story with Dennis Farina, in the episode titled "The Survivor", broadcast on February 13, 1987. Her first critical success with moviegoers was her performance in the independent film Mystic Pizza in 1988; that same year, she had a role in the fourth season finale of Miami Vice. The following year, she was featured in Steel Magnolias as a young bride with diabetes and got her first Academy Award nomination (as the Best Supporting Actress) for her performance. Julia became known to worldwide audiences when she co-starred with Richard Gere in the Cinderella/Pygmalionesque story Pretty Woman in 1990. Julia won the role after the first three choices for the part, Molly Ringwald, Meg Ryan and Daryl Hannah (her co-star in Steel Magnolias), all turned it down. The role also earned her a second Oscar nomination, this time as Best Actress. Her next box office success was the thriller Sleeping with the Enemy, playing a battered wife who escapes her demented husband, played by Patrick Bergin, and begins a new life in Iowa. She played Tinkerbell in Steven Spielberg's Hook in 1991, and also played a nurse in the 1991 film Dying Young. This work was followed by a two-year hiatus, during which she made no films other than a cameo appearance in 43
  44. 44. Robert Altman's The Player (1992). In early 1993, she was the subject of a People Magazine cover story asking, "What Happened to Julia Roberts?" She was offered the role of Annie Reed in the 1993 Sleepless in Seattle but turned it down (Yahoo Movies). In 1993, she co-starred with Denzel Washington in The Pelican Brief, based on the John Grisham novel. She also starred alongside Liam Neeson in the 1996 film Michael Collins. In 1995, she appeared in season 2 of Friends (episode 13 "The One After the Superbowl"). She was offered the role of Lucy Eleanor Moderatz in the 1995 While You Were Sleeping but also turned it down. Over the next few years, she starred in a series of films that were critical and commercial failures, such as Stephen Frears' Mary Reilly (1996). Julia overcame these failures with the commercial and critical success of My Best Friend's Wedding in 1997. In 1998, she appeared on Sesame Street opposite the character Elmo, demonstrating her ability to change emotions. She was offered the role of Viola de Lesseps in the 1998 Shakespeare in Love but turned it down. She starred with Hugh Grant in the 1999 film Notting Hill. That same year, she also starred in Runaway Bride, her second film with Richard Gere. Julia was a guest star on the Law & Order television series episode "Empire" with series regular Benjamin Bratt (at that time her boyfriend). Also in 1999, she starred in the critically panned film Stepmom alongside Susan Sarandon. She became a Hollywood star after headlining the 1990s romantic comedy Pretty Woman, which grossed $464 million worldwide. After receiving Academy Award nominations for Steel Magnolias in 1990 and Pretty Woman in 1991, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2001 for her performance in Erin Brockovich. Her films My Best Friend's Wedding, Mystic Pizza, Notting Hill, Runaway Bride, Valentine's Day, The Pelican Brief, Ocean's Eleven and Twelve have collectively brought box office receipts of over $2.4 billion. This has made her one of the most successful actors in terms of box office receipts. She has become one of the highest-paid actresses in the world, topping the Hollywood Reporter's annual "power list" of top-earning female stars from 2005 to 2006. Her fee for 1990's Pretty Woman was $300,000 in 2003; she was paid an unprecedented $25 million for her role in Mona Lisa Smile. As of 2010, Julia's net worth was estimated to be $140 million. She has been named by one of the People magazine's 44

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