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New Hollywood


New Hollywood

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New Hollywood or post-classical Hollywood refers to the brief time between roughly 1967 (Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate) and 1980 (Heaven's Gate) when a new generation of young, cinema-crazed filmmakers came to prominence in America, drastically changing not only the way Hollywood films were produced and marketed, but also the kinds of films that were made.



In this ten year period, Hollywood was overrun by a new generation of film school-educated, counterculture-bred actors, writers, and, most importantly, directors. This group of people, dubbed the New Hollywood by the press (or, affectionately, the Movie Brats), destroyed the old, film producer-dominated Hollywood system of the past and injected movies with a jolt of freshness, energy, sexuality, and an obsessive passion for film itself. Often, their films featured anti-establishment political themes, use of rock music, and sexual freedom. Furthermore, many figures of the period openly admit to using drugs such as LSD and marijuana.

By the 1960s the Hollywood studio system was declining and seen to be out of touch with a large portion of its audience. Studios, in a defensive measure against the lure of television, had started churning out widescreen epics, escapist musical fantasies, and genre pictures that grew staler as the years went by. Nothing was reflecting the changing social mores of American society and the result was declining ticket sales. By the time the baby boomer generation was coming of age in the 1960s and 1970s, Old Hollywood was hemorrhaging money; they had no idea what the audience wanted.

European art films, the French New Wave, and Japanese cinema were all making a big splash in America--the huge market of disaffected youth found something of themselves when they saw movies like Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up, with its oblique narrative structure and full-frontal female nudity. Studio heads were baffled. Unable to figure out what was happening, producers gradually handed power over to the directors and actors, many of whom were mentored or directed by Roger Corman. This was when the Movie Brat generation broke in and Hollywood became an asylum that was truly run by the inmates.

The New Hollywood came crashing down with the release of Star Wars in 1977 and Jaws in 1975. With its unprecedented box-office success, Lucas' Star Wars, along with Spielberg's Jaws two years before, jumpstarted Hollywood's blockbuster mentality, effectively ending the New Hollywood reign of smaller, idiosyncratic, envelope-pushing films. Major corporations started buying up the Hollywood studios, viewing films as springboards for other money-making efforts (later dubbed "synergy"). Whereas the films of the New Hollywood typically emphisized character and story, the blockbuster mentality focused on high-concept premises, with greater concentration on tie-in merchandise (such as toys), spin-offs into other mediums (such as soundtracks featuring original music by popular stars or television a series based on the film), and numerous sequels. Several New Hollywood films--including The Last Picture Show, American Graffiti, The Exorcist and Chinatown--would later generate sequels as a result of this mentality, often to a less than enthusiastic reception.

The New Hollywood's ultimate demise came after a string of self-indulgent and excessive films which failed at the box office, including At Long Last Love, New York, New York, Sorcerer, and Popeye, culminating in the financial disaster of Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate in 1980, which bankrupted United Artists studios, and resulted in its sale to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The exploits of the New Hollywood generation are infamously chronicled in the book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind.


Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

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Movies, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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