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History of Film

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Shola Radford

on 8 October 2014

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Transcript of History of Film

History of Film
1950s - The Rise of Youth Film
The 1950s brought about a new age of Rock and Roll and a new younger teenage market in the media. The new more rebellious youth were recognised by Hollywood and it soon realised that the teenage population could be exploited; films were centered around non-conformist ideas, drugs, drag races and 50s colloquialism, such as
High School Confidential (1958)
Two of the most influential young actors in the 1950s - Marlon Brando and James Dean - portrayed the new self-expressive and rebellious teenage market. Marlon Brando was a symbol for all youth in the 50s as the adolescent, anti-authoritarian rebellion teen and starred in controversial feature
The Wild One (1954)
, which was banned in the UK until 15 years after its first release. It told a story of a young motorcycle gang that invaded and terrorized a small town. James Dean was described as the 'First American Teenager' - who's air of rebellion was conveyed through his anti-conformist behaviour in roles such as Jim Stark in
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
, where drunkenness, drag racing and angst-filled dialogue influenced the young generation of the 1950s target market.
The 50s also saw the first full-length 3-D film,
Bwana Devil (1952).
1980s - Big Business Entertainment and Teen-angst Films
In the 1980s film budgets soared due to special effects and the inflation of salaries for big-name stars. A number of major studios were taken over by multi-national businesses in the 80s, such as 20th Century Fox - which was taken over by Marvin Davis in 1981, and then became 50% shared with publisher Robert Murdoch in 1985 where the company was renamed to Fox Film Corporation. The 1980s film industry brought about the rise of youth-orientated, "yuppie" films such as Amy Heckerling's defining teen film
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
. Following on from this, the rise of the "Brat Pack" began - young stars including, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson, Demi Moore, and Molly Ringwald. The "Brat Pack" were called so because their 'traits' included self-indulgence, self-absorption and socially-apathetic. During the 1980s, one of the most consistent writers/directors of 'coming-of-age' films was John Hughes who was responsible for films such as
Sixteen Candles (1984)
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
- all successful films that reached out to teen audiences as they dealt with teen-angst problems such as conformity and parental pressure.
1920s - 'Pre-talkie' and Silent Era
The 1920s brought a rapid growth in the motion picture, or film, industry whereby the separate control of production and distribution was integrated under one corporation to maximise profits and revenue streams – this was known as vertical integration.
There were eight studios that dominated the industry; they were split into the ‘big five’ (major studios) and the ‘little three’ (minor studios).
The Big Five:
Warner Bros Pictures
Paramount Pictures
RKO Radio Pictures
Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM)
Fox Film Corporation – later known as 20th Century Fox
The Little Three:
Universal Pictures
United Artists
Columbia Pictures
There were other, independent studios in Hollywood at the time that made cheap films, created with low budgets, stock footage and second-tier actors. These studios were known as ‘Poverty Row’; it included studios such as Disney Studios and Republic Pictures.
Notable stars included Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin.
1930s - 'Talkies' and the Golden Age of Hollywood
The 1930s became the era in which the silent films came to an end, and further developed sound and colour, and explored new film genres such as gangster films and musicals. The era also so many firsts for the film industry; the first daily newspaper for the film industry debuted in 1930 – The Hollywood Reporter, the first appearance of notable cartoon character, Popeye, and the debut of child star Shirley Temple.
Two-colour and Three-colour Technicolor Development:
Two-colour (red and green) films were the first colour films produced, such as Thomas Edison’s
Annabell’s Butterfly Dance
. By 1934, the first full-colour film was released –
La Cucaracha.
Studio Dominance and Decline in the 1930s:
The major studio system began to decline in the late 1930s due to numerous producers involved splitting away from the companies and becoming independent. An example is David Selznick, who resigned from major film company MGM and started his own independent company called Selznick Independent Pictures – the individual responsible for top-grossing film
Gone With the Wind (1939)
which was the most expensive film of the decade.
Although major studio dominance declined in the 1930s, MGM became the biggest, most predominant studio, rising above others and being dubbed as ‘The Home of the Stars’. The company had over 60 big-name actors including: Jean Harlow, Judy Garland and the Barrymores.
The 30s was the age of lavish glamour and sex appeal.
1960s - The End of the Hollywood System and the Era of Underground Cinema
The early 1960s saw one of the worst years for film production, with only 121 feature releases in 1963. The 60s also saw an increase in financial difficulties within the film industry with major companies distributing independently produced films and being taken over by multi-national companies meaning that the Hollywood era was soon to be over and studio-bound stars and directors were no longer.
However, as the the 50s came to an end and the early 60s cinema began, a new wave of British cinema came about dubbed 'Kitchen Sink' due to its angry, working-class themes that focused on social realism; films included -
Billy Liar (1963), Peeping Tom (1960) and This Sporting Life (1963)
, that all focused on a male protagonist that wanted to break free from societies expectations through the use of alcohol, sex, and sports. Some of the most notable and defined British films of the 60s were from controversial director Stanley Kubrick, such as
Lolita (1962)
, which Kubrick placed a dark social vision to emphasise his thoughts on social and political institutions during the Cold War period.
The "underground" movement started in the 1960s after John Cassavetes' first film, psychological thriller
Shadows (1960)
, which was a milestone for the development of independent films in America and framed a pathway for films such as
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Faces (1968)
- many classed Cassavetes' films as marking the start for 'New Hollywood'. This was also the decade that saw the passing of many major stars such as Marilyn Monroe in 1962 and Judy Garland in 1969.
1970s - Blockbuster Film and the "New Wave" American Cinema
The counter-culture of the 1970s (due to the hippie movement, civil rights movement, growth of rock and roll, drug use and the re-birth of Hollywood after its collapse inspired a new wave of new and experimental film-makers that challenged the old styles of Hollywood by taking risks. The decade spawned many Blockbusters such as Oscar-winning film
The Godfather (1972)
, Steven Spielberg's
Jaws (1975)
and cult-classics including:
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
, quirky musical comedy
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
, and
The Panic in Needle Park (1971)
. The revival of Hollywood was due to the success of building upon some of Hollywood's past successful genres with bigger budgets and blockbuster dimensions, i.e. more special effects, action etc. As the 70s began, a new generation of directors and film-makers dubbed "Movie Brats" started the notion of auteurism - a belief that the director was the most important in creating a film's form, meaning and content. Some of the "Movie Brats" included notable film-makers George Lucas (
Star Wars, 1977
); Wes Craven (
The Hills Have Eyes, 1977
); Brian De Palma (
Carrie, 1976
); and William Friedkin (
The Exorcist, 1973
1970s film had a major emphasis on bigger budget and escapism to reach out to larger audiences - they often relied on more special effects rather than leading stars, such as Richard Donner's
Superman (1978)
. These films tended to reach out to larger audiences because it allowed consumers to find escapism and entertainment, according to Blumler and Katz (1974).
1940s – Post-war Years and the Beginning of Film Noir
The film industry in the early 1940s was slow due to the war, however Hollywood rebounded in the mid-1940s and reached a profitable peak where films had advanced in technology, meaning that they were more watchable.
Although the early 1940s were not promising, it did bring about the defining wartime propaganda film,
Casablanca (1942)
, which was to become a timeless and beloved film with the successes of Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay.
As the late 1940s came about, the B-Movie, a low-budget, often independently produced film, started to decrease after 20 years of mild success from the 1920s.
The 1940s is heavily associated with the genre
film noir
, as the genre was characterised by dark and cynical narratives, as well as distorted camera work to emphasise the troubled plots. The dark genre had evolved from 30s gangster films but defined itself by having darker plots and untrustworthy
femme fatales
.Some of the most notable
film noirs
Murder, My Sweet (1945), Force of Evil (1948)
Touch of Evil (1958).
1990s - Mainstream Films and "Indie" Cinema Era
The 1990s saw an inflation of film production costs, with the average being around $53 million but many costing over $100 million, with some of the most expensive blockbusters rising above this; and indoor cinemas multiplying from around 26,000 in 1990 to around 35,600 by 2000.
As the 1990s moved forward, a new age of marketing came about using the internet which proved to be a success; an example is
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
, whose website was a popular site for internet users created a lot of buzz about whether the film was real or not - this made the film so successful that it became one of the most profitable films.
The 1990s also saw a newcomer in the world of Hollywood studios - DreamWorks was formed in 1994 and had released many successful films such as
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Deep Impact (1998)
Shrek (2001)
By the end of the decade, independent filming had become more mainstream and commercialized with studios such as Miramax, a small independent studio formed in 1979, creating huge hits such as
Pulp Fiction (1994)
, a major cult film in the 90s,
Kids (1995)
Clerks (1994)
. Notable stars from the 1990s included Arnold Schwarzenegger, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, Jim Carrey, Winona Ryder, Sandra Bullock, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Ben Stiller, and Johnny Depp.
The 1990s saw a surge of female film-makers creating highly successful films such as Penelope Spheeris'
Wayne's World (1992)
; and films with underlying feminist outlooks, such as Ridley Scott's
Thelma and Louise (1991)
whose script was written by Callie Khouri and has been dubbed the first feminist-road film.
2000s - The Era of Franchise Films and the Success of R-Rated Comedies
During the 2000s, the Hollywood studio system was dominated by six major entertainment companies:
Time Warner (formerly known as Warner Bros.)
20th Century Fox
Viacom (formerly Paramount) - has ownership over DreamWorks studio
Sony (formerly Columbia Pictures)
Walt Disney - Joined with Pixar
NBC Universal (formerly Universal)
The 2000s saw a rise of the use of social networking sites, towards the end of the decade, to market and advertise films to gain a wider audience for the studios. Films such as
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
gained a huge following through the use of sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The decade also saw a steady stream of blockbuster franchises such as the
Harry Potter
series, the
series and the
Pirates of the Caribbean
series - some of the top-grossing films in the decade.
Although PG films tended to be more widely watched by audiences, the 2000s showed that semi-offensive 'R-Rated comedies' could be very popular and bring in a lot of profit; these films included the
American Pie
series and
Not Another Teen Movie (2001).
2010s - New Era Cinema
The 2010s saw a drop in attendance, by up to 6% compared to that of 2009, in cinemas and a decrease in tickets sales due to factors such as the changing media, i.e. more viewing options (streaming) and the use of social media to broadcast word-of-mouth reactions to films.
2010 saw that audiences opted more for non-fiction films such as
The King's Speech (2010)
127 Hours (2010)
rather than fantasy films; and that these audiences tended to have a more positive reaction to feature-length documentaries, such as
Catfish (2010)
, which is possibly due to the increasing familiarity and popularity of reality TV and sites such as YouTube.
In mid-2011, the LA Times stated that Hollywood's business model was about to head for a revolutionary shift due to the 40% decline in home entertainment revenue, i.e. DVDs, meaning that the shift was to accomadate on-demand services for audiences via downloads onto smartphones, tablets and TVs.
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