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Film History: Contemporary Cinema – Timeline of Cinema Ep. 6


Hello everyone and welcome to our video series,
“A Timeline of World Cinema” I’m Bradley Weatherholt and I will be your
host on this journey through the history of film. In this episode we will discuss contemporary
cinema and the impact of modern technology on it. We will also discuss the growing reliance
on blockbusters, sequels and remakes. Now, because we live in this period, it is
a difficult era to define. However, one thing is certain. The consolidation of major studios by media
conglomerates forever changed the world of cinema. Under a strategy of diversification, the technology
firm Sony purchased Columbia and media company News Corp bought 20th Century Fox. In 1989 Time and Warner consolidated for 20
billion dollars. And with a renewed interest, Hollywood sought
to concentrate the power and profit of global marketplace under the American studio control. Most name the 1930s and 1940s as the peak
of Hollywood’s international footprint. But the last twenty years stand as an era
when Hollywood amassed an international presence, superiority in mass media, and profit returns
unparalleled in its history. According to recent numbers from the MPAA,
70% of box office revenues come from international markets. To achieve this, Hollywood spends more time
and energy in marketing to international audiences. In fact, studios now consider the influence
on foreign markets over domestic markets when determining which projects to greenlight. Scripts now rely on less nuanced dialogue
so as not to confuse a non-English speaking country, and narratives involve safer plots,
for fear of offending other cultures. Unlike the bold, risky adaptations of the
Golden Age, Hollywood now relies on already established franchises. Blockbusters now depend on everything from
comic book superheroes to pre-teen novels to bring in predictable profits. Although Hollywood still produces some films
for the family audience, particularly animations films, the vast majority films are principally
designed for young adult audiences. Take, for instance, the 13 Harry Potter and
Twilight films. To continue to impress this demographic, Hollywood
continues to escalate the amount of sex and violence in each picture. Blockbusters shy away from realism in favor
of racy, exciting characters who can do all the things basic TV cannot show. By now, TV and movie theater markets are mutually
dependent. The majority of revenue earned by over half
of films produced now comes from secondary markets such as TV and video. The argument can be made that seeing film
on the small screen does not constitute a cinematic experience. Cinema at its purest relies on the theater
experience, even in the increasingly complex world of multimedia. Neither video nor television could self-sufficiently
market a feature length film. Only theatrical distribution could sustain
the businessmodel. Studios realize this and continue to draw
audiences to theaters. One producer, Harvey Weinstein, completely
understands this need for theater attendance. Harvey Weinstein is one of the most influential
producers of modern day. In 1979 Weinstein co-founded Miramax with
his brothers and ran the company until 2005. Miramax had an early string of releases, but
in 1989 with the release of Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Miramax became a major independent
studio. In 1993 Disney purchased Miramax under the
condition that the Weinsteins could still manage the studio. Disney allowed Weinstein the freedom to produce
risky pictures such as Clerks and Pulp Fiction. By this time, Weinstein was a Hollywood power
player, commissioning critically acclaimed films such as Shakespeare in Love, Good Will
Hunting, and the Academy Award winning The English Patient. In 2005, Weinstein broke from Miramax, and
with the help of other studio executives founded The Weinstein Company. Under TWC Weinstein has released almost an
unbroken chain of successful films. Academy Award nominated Inglorious Basterds,
The Reader and Django Unchained, as well as Best Picture winners The Artist and The King’s
Speech, all released under Weinstein’s commission. Many factors explain Weinstein’s success. His lucrative distribution of foreign films,
his courage in producing risky art productions, and his creative business practices elevated
him to the top of Hollywood. His strategy of slow release, a practice where
a studio opens a film in few theaters, then gradually increases the theater count over
the following weeks, highlights his business savvy. Since most of the box office revenues from
opening weeks go to theater companies, slow release ensures the revenue is generated in
weeks where the studios receive the largest share. The strategy is just another way Harvey Weinstein
continues to influence modern cinema. Harvey Weinstein is not only a figure of American
cinema, but world cinema as a whole. In the last few decades, global film has grown
exponentially. European productions from directors such as
Michael Haneke and Lars Von Trier continue to push the artistic boundaries of cinema. In Latin America, director Guillermo Del Toro
fantasizes worlds of color and horror, while Alfonso Cuaron uses his films as a platform
for philosophical investigation. Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki produced
the best animation films since Walt Disney. Taiwanese director Edward Yang’s Yi Yi heralded
a series of Asian art house dramas. Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who
cinephiles endearingly call Joe, has had a prolific career, spanning several acclaimed
films which are highly innovative in their narrative and structure. However, one film, Wong Kar-Wai’s In the
Mood For Love serves as the movement’s most celebrated film. In the Mood for Love is probably the most
and least aptly named movie. On one end, the title perfectly describes
the film, from the soundtrack motif to the lush colorscape, the entire movie is mood. At the opposing end, not much love happens,
or in the very least, not much is consummated. When two married couples move into a Hong
Kong apartment in 1962, an affair takes place. Rather than follow the husband/wife portion
committing the affair, the film involves the faithful half as they meet to discuss the
pain they feel from their unfaithful spouses. The sexual tension is palpable, but rather
than settle for the obvious, Wong Kar-Wai does not allow the couple any relief. Like so much in the film, the narrative goes
against convention. In a time where audiences demand either violent
or sexual fulfillment from their protagonist, In the Mood for Love strays from both. The result is not only a beautiful film, but
one which is truly authentic. One, that like life, is ambiguous and riddled
with questions. In the Mood for Love, like most artistic developments
after the 1970s, happened outside of the mainstream. For the most part, the changes in world cinema
since 1945 have happened gradually. However, occasionally an event transpires
that revolutionizes the industry. Sound, the studio system, and television all
belong to these revolutions. And now, a new one, the birth of digital cinema,
revolutionizes what is possible with cinema. Film purists such as Quentin Tarantino refuse
to adopt video cameras. But now digital photography is the standard. Many love digital for the cost saving measures. But is cinema really getting cheaper? It’s easy to forget that most of the costs
associated with movie budgeting is not related to camera technology at all. SAG wages don’t change with digital productions,
nor do the costs of food or locations. And make up, labor and almost every other
aspect of cinema production remain the same regardless of the capturing medium. In fact, some digital technologies such as
3D actually increase production cost. Another misconception of digital is that in
somehow heralds the beginning of the end of cinema To say that cinema is dying or in the state
of decline since the 1940s, is to define cinema only in terms of the Golden Age of Hollywood. It is to arbitrarily limit cinema to one period
of history. One might as soon say that painting died with
the Renaissance. One could just as soon say cinema died with
The Birth of a Nation, given that their definition of cinema was that of the theater of attractions. Instead of limiting cinema to one interpretation,
why not define cinema as an ever-changing art? If one chooses to see cinema as an evolving
medium that has survived the birth of sound, the revolution of color, the censorships of
government, the rise of television, and much more, one will see cinema is far from dying. It is alive and changing. And will continue to thrive even in the coming
century with the concerns of digital filmmaking and the internet.

10 Comments

  1. Danny Roqs Author

    Man I hadn't realized how boring and pathetic contemporary cinema has become from the late 2000s to present with major movie studios. A decline in film writing and innovation and risky chances in favor for political agenda pandering, politically correct, lazily written stories, reboots and sequels. If you want potential movies, you have to go to independent cinema.

    Reply
  2. pelaito2 Author

    I watched all episodes "de una sola vez" and now I feel I have a much better understanding of cinema, especially american cinema. Felicitaciones! Muy buen trabajo!

    Reply
  3. Fernando Servin Author

    This was beautifully ended. I was going to do countless hours of research on a time line of cinema but this was like a gift from god. Thank you so much!

    Reply

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