Are we entering a new era of film?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Adam_S, Dec 12, 2002.

  1. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    This is something that has been floating around in my mind for sometime now. Are we entering into a new era of film?

    There are generally recognized five broad periods of film:
    Silent 1896-1928
    Classical - 1928-1941/5
    Post-classical - 1946-1962
    Modernist - 1963-1977
    Post-modernist - 1977-present

    Now for all of these films there was no singular event (with the exception of sound invention) that caused a transition, things were moving towards a new era already. Yes, World War II was a major event that drastically and forever changed all filmmaking in Europe (and America, but to a less dramatic extent), but look at the things going on just before the film, Citizen Kane is the big one that irrevocably changed filmmaking, but even other films such as How Green Was My Valley have multiple character arcs, a critical attitude towards industrial capitalism, goalless plots, or other films such as The Lady Eve and Mr. Skeffington with decidedly refreshing feminine characters. Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Huston's first post war film) is another excellent example.

    Than in the post classical era we have all those wonderful periods such as italian neorealism, film noir, the french new wave emerging etc. In america films like Rebel without a cause and Who's Afraid of Virginia wolf began to push the production code as far as it would go. Stanley Kubrick made Paths of Glory. Billy Wilder's films, Some Like it Hot, The Apartment, One, Two Three, (1959-61) all deal with subject matter explicit enough they likely would not have been made as such just after the war.

    Then the Ratings Board was established in 1962, and the French New Wave began to have a full affect on American generation, just as the first generation of the baby boomers began to graduate filmschool and start up in the industry. These same filmmakers, civil rights conscious and deeply imbued in films, began to have great freedom and a fair lack of restraint, The Godfather films came out in the 70's Midnight Cowboy, rated X won best picture, A Clockwork orange was made. Jaws came out to pave the road for Star Wars.

    1977 Star Wars came out and the summer was open season on blockbusters. The next generation of filmmakers began to break down the moderist style and all previous styles as well, questioning everything, from storytelling structure to what was culturally permissable, films like Full Metal Jacket, Robocop, Basic Instinct, and Natural Born Killers are touchstones of this sort of filmmaking

    So look back on the time periods, and you see that each period lasts almost no longer than a quarter centery, I think since it's been 25 years since Star Wars a new era of filmmaking is on us. Filmmaking is organic and constantly changing, its necessary that it has changed enough over 25 years that postmodernism will no longer be a sufficient label. I'm NOT saying that because X years have passed we must have a revolution, rather I'm saying that we should start recognizing a new era of filmmaking is upcoming or even upon us. look at what we've been seeing, Spielberg made AI, Minority Report and now Catch Me if You Can in the last three years, AI in particular is especially impressive as entirely fresh filmmaking from him. Scorsese is releasing a massive epic that is more of a crowd pleaser than any other Scorsese film we've yet seen from him. Films like Waking Life, animated but adult are coming out, and of course there is Pixar films, which to me embody a fundamental shift in animated movies of recent years. Disney is beginning to experiment (Lilo and Stitch), and the writers are becooming more recognized (all the press on the Charlie Kaufman movies). Then of course there's the effect the internet may have on filmmaking or has already had, as well as the recent swell in independent flmmaking that all point to me that this era (post modernism) crested sometime in the last 15 years, and there is a distinct if as of yet unseen shift towards a new era of filmmaking.

    If you'll also notice above there are major events that give each era an ending and beginning date, by no means do the films around these dates magically become one era from being made in x or y year, but they are more landmarks, touchstones that signified the beginning of a major shift in filmmaking. The question to me is, what is this next shift? the most obvious filmmaking answer is Lord of the Rings, the gigantic return of the epic in a nine hour tripartite film but drastically different from other epics that have preceded it. I think we'll be feeling the echos from this filmaking achievement for quite sometime. however some may feel that the War on Terrorism is going to be more influential, and globally it may, especially if this leads into a third world war.

    What do you think?

    Adam
     
  2. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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    Really? You think that GONY, a period piece, is more of a crowd pleaser than a straightforward mob film like Goodfellas? I definitely disagree.
    DJ
     
  3. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    hmm I was thinking that the ratings board was 1962 for some reason, maybe I'm getting my facts mixed up, I'm sure somebody will pipe in with what was significant, though a few years one way or another isn't a huge difference (six is). I was remembering things that there were about thirty years between the Production code/Hayes board (1934 I think) and the ratings system, and about thirty years between the ratings system and today (I wrote a paper suggesting that there's been enough of a shift in film as dramatic as those other thirty years in these thirty years that is reason enough for a revamp of the film ratings).
    [edit]It just occured to me that around this time the studio system began to totter and collapse in on itself...

    I did mention Jaws, I said that Jaws paved the way for Star Wars, which it did, it launched the Summer Blockbuster--but the launch of the Star Wars phenomenon is somewhat of a larger touchstone for opening the era of post modernism. there's a vast amount of overlap anyway, Chariots of Fire and Ordinary People are films I would see as fundamentally modernist.

    Goodfellas violated too many gangster/mob conventions to really be a crowd pleaser, say like Bonnie and Clyde. I know that depiste how enigmatic Ray Liotta was for the entirety of the film, I was frustrated that he essentially got away with his lifestyle. It's also hardly a straight forward gangster film, from the out of order storytelling to the black humor and defiance of audiance expectations (as well as the often shocking violence), I don't see it quite as much of a crowd pleaser that you think it is. I'm thinking of Bonnie And Clyde, something that appeals on a wide level, Goodfellas is widely loved at HTF yes, but I think the initial box office shows it wasn't as popular with the crowds. GONY on the other, looks to be shaping up as a reinvention of the American Historical period film with a big dash of Hamlet thrown in. There's a lot of potential for it to be an audiance pleaser, or it could bomb big, it all depends at this point, but from what I've seen and read it looks like it is more accessible than Goodfellas.

    Adam
     
  4. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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    I don't really see the major changes you have delineated by the time line. Maybe they are there, but it would I would have to read a book on film history for a broader discussion than we can do here.
    Spielberg made AI, Minority Report and now Catch Me if You Can in the last three years, AI in particular is especially impressive as entirely fresh filmmaking from him.
    I don't see anything here that stretches the envelope. The whole time I watched AI it reminded me of Pinnochio.
    Six movies that do see to me to be a new trend and style in film are Pulp Fiction, American Beauty,and Magnolias, Memento, Mulholland Drive. Kind of like Seinfeld only brought to big screen. All of these movies are a series of scenes, many times unrelated, that don't flow toward a morale. The morality is evident, but in the actions of the characters and you have to be alert to see if justice is meeted out and what kind of behavior is punished, ignored, or rewarded. They require the movie goer to be very alert cause if you get up to get a popcorn and you come back to you seat your first reaction is likely to be "what the f*** are they doing now? Man am I lost."
     
  5. Andrew Walbert

    Andrew Walbert Stunt Coordinator

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    While I don't pretend to be nearly as well learned on film history as you guys, I would have to agree with Ashley in that movies such as Pulp Fiction, American Beauty, Magnolia, etc, signal a new type of film, that requires the audience to at least pay close attention, if not outright think/concentrate. The other "shift" (if you can really call it that) away from previous film styles would be the pure CGI films that have started to become genuinely entertaining enough that they are replacing the tried and true "hand-drawn" cartoons of old. This is more of a technology-induced change, but given the degree to which CGI is now effectively being integrated into film, and also that the audience accepts it without complaint (Jar-Jar comments aside). LOTR could not have been done believably ten years ago, nor would anyone have attempted to undertake such a massively epic triple-movie deal like this. George Lucas said he wanted to wait to finish his SW saga until the technology existed to "do it right".

    Just my $.02
     
  6. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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