Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Decade Under the Influence—Part 1



I think it's important to dissect this documentary and the ideas expressed in it. The mindset of the film industry during that period produced some of the most memorable and iconic movies of the modern era. I think it's fascinating that a period of openness and experimentation evolved into today's mediocrity, fear of failure and lack of imagination.

Part 1 of the documentary is called "Influences and Independents." The studio system had died; the big studio heads—Louis B. Meyer, Darryl Zanuck, Jack Warner, Harry Cohn, et al—had either died, too, or sold their interests to non-filmmakers. These new studio heads were remarkable, in my opinion, because they knew they knew nothing about filmmaking. Instead of imposing their ignorant will onto the filmmakers—as they do today—they turned to the filmmakers and gave them free rein to do their thing. Imagine that, allowing an artist to CREATE without interference!




There was a new audience at this time, an audience experiencing Vietnam, Watergate, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Movement and general social confusion. People were questioning what had not been questioned before. Audiences were looking for something more meaningful and related to their own life experiences as opposed to the Rock Hudson/Doris Day glitz of the 50's. Audiences wanted something they recognized. The filmmakers expressed these feelings with their films.

The movies made during this period often thumbed their noses at the audience's values. They attempted to reflect life as it was as opposed to how the authorities wanted it to be.

I found all of this to be fascinating. As a child of the 70's and early 80's, combined with having a mother who was a film buff, I saw a lot of the social commentary movies from that period. To this day, films from that period are among my favorites. When I go to see a bad movie, like TRON: Legacy (to be reviewed in my next post), I'll often pop in a tape or DVD of "The Graduate" or "Network" to remind myself of what is a good movie.




Clint Eastwood summed things up nicely when he said that when making "Dirty Harry," they threw caution to the wind and just went for it, that they were FEARLESS.

I couldn't agree more.

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