Violence in American Cinema

May 22nd, 2010

After reading Bernstein’s article, “Perfecting the New Gangster: Writing Bonnie and Clyde”, I thought about Hitchcock’s career and how he was a big influence on the films made in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the surprising ending of Bonnie and Clyde. Also, I realized how he how his work changed to accommodate the new youth culture that wanted to see something different in cinema that their parents have never seen before, violence. Hitchcock’s early works had extreme levels of suspense and irony but no violence. This all changed with Psycho (1960), which later became one of the most defining films of modern cinema in America. This film went on to influence many filmmakers around the world, including Francois Truffaut, who had a big impact on the screenwriters and the director of Bonnie and Clyde. The shower sequence in Hitchcock’s film forever changed the course of American cinema. The use of violence can be further seen in Hitchcock’s penultimate film, Frenzy. That film is about a serial murder/rapist. I do not think there ever could be a more violent subject matter. Even the scenes where we do not see the violence but are left to imagine what was going can make anyone cringe just as much as the last scene of Bonnie and Clyde.

The Young Cinemas

May 13th, 2010

The late 1950s and early 1960s spurred a creative frenzy in filmmaking around the world. The youth culture and urban leisure-class defined that generation of filmmaking. National film schools sprouted in Scandinavia, Latin America as well as the Middle East and the cohort of directors of this time were mostly in their 30s. With their extensive knowledge of films, these filmmakers turned the industry upside down. Fashion, music and sports became distinctive in these films. To boost the economies in almost all of these once floundering countries co-productions between different countries and erotic films became a must-have. International film festivals began to develop; governments were sponsoring their states’ flurry of new directors and their projects. Filmmaking techniques and technologies were becoming modernized. Cinema was thrust into bouts of realism and overt politicizing. Styles such as the New Wave, Left Bank, Kitchen Sink, Neorealism and Direct Cinema took over the industry to bring it to new heights and levels of thinking.

France Before & During WWII

May 4th, 2010

I find it interesting that the flexibility and the freedom that filmmakers in France had was a result of a weak studio system because of the Great Depression. I find it remarkable that during times of war, the film industry in almost every country set their sights on making fantasy films. However, French filmmakers’ new found autonomy came at a cost, working sometimes literally for nothing as their studios tried to drive each other out of business. Poetic Realism seems similar to film noir with the often intense romance in the beginning of the film and the disillusionment at the end. The stark contrast of this French style would be that it has simple plots, impoverished characters and severe environments. Unfortunately, when France became occupied by Germany the sovereignty gained in the 1930s were lost by the 1940s by films becoming censored or indefinitely halted. The only positive event was that producers from Italy were able to help this country’s industry and in turn became influenced by the Poetic Realism that helped made Italian Realism what it was. The worst part of the Occupation was the discrimination of Jews in the film industry.

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