New Hollywood

From ArticleWorld


New Hollywood refers to the approximately 15-year-period from the late 1960s through to about 1980, when directors made decisions, screenwriters departed from traditional rules and conventions, and [[actor]s were often selected less for their physical appearance and more for their ability and willingness to take on 'risky' roles. This was in marked contrast to classical Hollywood cinema, with its studio system that bound actors to studios, and decisions on which movies to make and how was determined by the studios. By about the mid- to late-1960s, the studios were having a hard time producing films that matched the changing social mores and values of the American audience, and as a result verging on bankruptcy. The early chances given to New Hollywood were a result of this need to offer audiences something new.

The movies of New Hollywood were characterized by an emphasis on energy and movement, a more open sexuality and alternative sexualities, the internal life of the characters, unconventional bad boys and desireable bad girls. In addition they explore different sets of [[conventio (philosophy and social sciences)|conventions of moviemaking, acting style, and script genres, from the naturalist style, to the science fiction genre, to new, experimental noir and the patterns of myth. New Hollywood directors, writers, and actors were characterized by their artistic passion for the medium of film itself.

The leading lights of New Hollywood include Robert Altman (M*A*S*H, The Long Goodbye), Al Pacino (The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon), Martin Scorcese (Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, The Last Waltz), Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather), Faye Dunaway (Taxi Driver, New York, New York), Dustin Hoffman (Midnight Cowboy, The Graduate), Roman Polanksi (Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown), Gene Hackman (Bonnie and Clyde, The French Connection), George Lucas (American Graffitti, Star Wars), Jane Fonda (Klute, The China Syndrome), Terence Malick (Badlands, Days of Heaven), Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider), Robert de Niro (Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull), Diane Keaton (The Godfather, Annie Hall), Steven Spielberg (Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind), and Woody Allen (Love and Death, Annie Hall, Play it Again, Sam).

New Hollywood started to weaken due to both commecial success and failure. In the mid-1970s, first Jaws (1975) and then Star Wars (1975) were massive commercial and critical successes. The box office smashes of these and The Godfather spurred studio executives as well as moviemakers to start planning blockbusters, which reinforced a new kind of aggressive commercialism in cinema that gave producers greater leverage. The utter comercial failure of other films, such as New York, New York, and Heaven's Gate (which hastened the bankruptcy of United Artists, which was then bought by MGM) gave cause for conservatism, again taking control from directors to producers.

Much of New Hollywood was inspired by the exposure of young American actors, writers, and directors to alternative traditions from other countries such as Sweden, France, Japan, India, and Italy. The general mood among you Americans was one of disaffection and ennui, and there was promise and excitement in these traditions. Foreign filmmakers played with different narrative techniques (the different pace, the subtlety and sometimes obliqueness, the multiple perspectives and the breaking of the fourth wall), innovative camera work (the Jean-Luc Godard's jump cuts and unbroken tracking shots), and sometimes relaistic and often bold or formerly-taboo subjects. Directors that provided inspiration included Ingrid Bergman, Roberto Antonioni, Fran├žois Truffaut, Satyajit Ray, Fedrico Fellini, Yasujiro Ozu, and Akira Kurosawa, actors such as Jean Seberg, Liv Ullman, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Anita Ekberg, and Marcello Mastroianni.