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Cinema and The Counterculture Movement

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Good morning. So, today’s class is all about counterculture movement, but before that letme just recap about what we were doing yesterday.So, anyone can anyone tell me what we were doing yesterday?Brando, Dean and Elvis Presley are the hero of the 50's.And what were the observations on the heroes of the 50's, because it is all leading towards something;the way this like is this classes are structured. Yesterday, we talked about the 50's heroeswho were essentiallynot hyper-masculine, they were also, what kind of work did James Dean do?Three movies and they were all of about? Method acting yes, that is the kind of acting.But what was the thematic transfer of his work?About the youth andanti-establishment, did we will talk about that?Rebel without the cause; the title itself says the lot about the theme of the movie. And then we had also seen that,it was based on a book; the title itself derives from a book, and that brings us to counterculture movement.Now, what is how many of you are aware of counterculture movement?Do you know anything about counterculture movement?Student: It is about the rebellion against the governmentRebellion against, not just the government yes, Vietnam was one of the factor,politics was one of the factor but yet; there were in this generation there was anti-war, thisyou have to remember,Please, take down the key concepts, very soon you will be doing your quizzes, assignment etcetera.So, you have to understand,what this people were all about, anti-Vietnam War.So, they did not support the war in other words, this generation.Hippie culture is also associated with that. Now, these are the key concepts, the beats, beat generation,Woodstock nation,and anti-Vietnam War.People who assemble that there in august 1969;so collectively as a group they came to be known as the hippies, and many of the directorsthat we are going to talk about especially the new Hollywood directors, they were a part of that,they were they had actually participated in Woodstock.So, my scholar Vimal has been working on new Hollywood cinema for quite a while, and he willgive you some description, specially the movie Woodstock.Hi, this short presentation is going to be briefing and probably and add on to, whatwill be doing in the past couple of classes, regarding the counterculture moment in the 1960’s so forth.So, 60’s as we will call it (()) 60’s.And it is important for a lot of radical culture phenomenonand breakthrough that happened at that point of a time;including civil rights movements, stonewall riots and of course Woodstock.So, this presentation is going into deal with a little bit of the history of the phenomena that was a Woodstock,and also as you can see this film that was based on the on the festival itself.‘Woodstock: three days of peace and music’ directed by Michael Wadleigh.So, the festival itself was set up by happen in August 1969,and it was set up by a couple of entrepreneurs who wanted to bring in the biggest musicianof the time into the big festival of the thoughts.And in this happen right outside New York, on the farm of the man called Max Yasgurs.And it was a huge phenomenal, completely unanticipated in scope and scale.And it happened on a 600 acre farm. The funny thing is that, the kindof people turned out for the festival little under a half million; fans and hippies turnedout for the festival, and it was completely unprecedented.No one could estimate the number of people could turn up,so it was a big disaster in terms of logistics and management.So, there are accounts of this being a big block show,because the media received the festival initially along very harsh lines, calling it the Hippie festivaland Hippies were rolling into the mud, considering that as heavenly farm at that time.And there are reports included among the documents in the films that relate,that there at least two deaths happenings during the period of festival which ran three days;understandably someone from drug over dose,and one from tractor being over-run a Hippie was sleeping in the farm.So what we had in Max Yasgurs’ farm in 1969, was basically a city that was a formedof free spirited thinkers,and people who did not care about establishment or its authoritarians’ values.And all the laws that determined bythis community or lack of it was basically decided by the sprite of the community.So, the event was largely and remarkably peaceful, considering the number of people who turnedout for the festival. And there were performance by leading musicians of that time; includingthe performances by Richie Havens, Canned Heat, Santana, Crosbyand of course the legendary Jimi Hendrix.And the instances of Hendrix’s performing for a two hours set, and his psychedelic conditionof the stars spangled banner which happens to be the national anthem of United States,it is a very iconic movement. And because the song becomes the rendition of the remixif you may; of the American national anthem and Hendrix is rendition of it, becomes partof the psyche’s of 60’s, and it could capture very well, but no words can.And the picture of Hendrix performing this song in his white leathered jacket and redhead scarf becomes the iconic image that defines 60’s.However, unfortunately Max Yasgurs,immediately after the four days of celebration got over; he said I cannot want to do anymore of of this things, and he want to get back in to farming, so that is a last of woodstock,we did not have in any more of wood stock happening after that.And he himself captured the philosophy of Woodstock in this lines quotes‘if we join them, we can turn those adversity, that are the problem of America today into a hope forbrighter and more peaceful future’. And Woodstock also needs to be studied and analysedin comparison to other cultural phenomena and rock concerts happening at that point of time;including this including the concert by rolling stones which turned into violentand was later capture by David and Albert Maysles in Gimme Shelter which came out justthe same year as Woodstock 1970. So, together all there films illustrates the influencecounterculture on younger generation and they reflected the strength of youth moment thatcaptured America at that point of time. Woodstock also noticeably divides of lot of major celebritiesincluding Bob Dylan, literally in whose backyard Woodstock taking place.Bob Dylan was did not want to be part of Woodstock for some reason and he decided to leave for Englandthe same day that Woodstock festival began. It also noticeable by the conspicuous absenceof the Beatles, and conspiracy theory goes that the Beatles were denied entryby that then president Richard Nixon.And the other noticeable group that was conspicuously absence was the Dwarfs.But despite all these, Woodstock turn out to be a huge cultural phenomena that,that has to be remember every time we talk of the 1960's.Now, the film itself Woodstock: three days of peace and music, directed by Michael Wadleigh.It is a part of what we know today as concert film. A concert film is film that recordsthe concerts; a live performance or a band of musician or band or may be even, it canalso it’s a blanket under can even envelope performance by perhaps the stand-up comedian.Concert films are edited over the course of many performances, and are staged with multiplecameras and then the film is praise together. And they can be consider be as a pseudo-documentarya quasi-documentary, and some people go to the length of calling it is as a Rockumentary.This particular film under consideration provided a definitive look at the three day counter culturalrock concert which was held in first at New York. And along with other prominent rock films,rock concert films you come out during the generation were; number one ‘Let it be’,which come out 1970, basically filming the last get together of the Beatles,as well as the film we just talked about ‘Give me shelter’ in which, which is notoriousfor deploying health changes and security; and it saw the murder of a black man asThe Rolling stones were performing live on stage. This film it is important along many lines,not only because it subverts the rocks concert energy that you normally associate with afilm about rock music and show of this kind. In one of the most memorable sequences of the film,as film opens we have Canned Heat surreally propulsive going of the country, flooding the open farms.And we see herds of hippies walking of the field in upstate New York,forming a tied and gathering on to a big flee.This is soon, this is flees with an image of hippies dancing and swaying against the twilight skywhich kind of gives out certain impression of the hippies inventing the Garden of Eden.So, as a documentary Woodstock aims to do two prominent things;number one to record and document this huge phenomena,number two to provide a social comment on American in particular on going trouble that they hadwith Vietnam that point of time. And using the festival as a sort of anti-theses, to society as soil,it also permitted with images, with radical an iconic images of people of religions;we have Swamijis from California and nuns all flashing a peace sign to the camera,cops on the scene eating popsicles, and the army dropping blankets, food and flowers from the helicopter.The film was edited by Thelma Schoonmaker and most interestingly Martin Scorsese,and was released in 1970. The history behind making the film is quite new in itselfbecause Artie Kornfeld is one of the, who was another promoter of the festival,approached a lot of Hollywood producers in an attempt to get financing to document the festival,and he was turned down by a lot of them. And finally, he knocks on Warner Brother’s doorwhere Fred Weintraub is an executive there, promised to give him a hundred thousand dollars to make a film.And ironically Woodstock in fact helps to save Warner brotherat that time when the company was on the verge of the going out of business; when they madethe film they had no idea that the film was going to be as phenomenal as the festival itself,because when Wadleigh went on together hundred New Yorkers to shoot for the filmhe made a deal with them which was a double or nothing but a deal. Because he had absolutelyno idea that the film was going to so good, he said that if the film was, if films woulddo well, he is going to pay his group a double or if the film is bombed, he is not going to pay them at all.So the director sensed, he used a 16 cameras to capture a festival itselfand which is which becomes instantly very different from the classic kind of concertfilms that would, in which you would probably find the camera straining on the performers themselves.But because the film was shot extensively with 16 cameras and hundred crew members,the editor had to deal with over hundred and twenty miles of film footage whichmean that they could be very creative the way film actually came out; they could reaction shots,the film is also radical because it uses spilt screens to show multiple perspectiveof the same phenomenon happening on the stage.Roger Ebert famously remarks that,it gives us may be 60% music and 40 % on the people who were there, and I think that a good ratio.Thank you Vimal for a very nice presentation.So, culturally an important era, something that influence the next decade of filmmaking,because these were the directors who were radicallyopposed to the prevailing system, prevailing values of the Hollywood that was the existing that time.And counterculture marked the watershed period in American history, politics and culture.Key people; Jack Kerouac, what did he write?‘On the road’,Allen Ginsberg‘Howl’;that is like a war-cry against the establishment.William Burrughs'‘Naked lunch’,so that is Counterculture movement.And of course, the most important movie of that period was the ‘Easy Rider’by Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda that is important to remember.But the movement also started in cinema at least; the counterculture movement is startedwith a very famous movie called,‘A hard day’s night’ starring the beatles as themselves, directed by Richard Lester.And if you have been following the classes, and if you havebeen you know, we have been talking about what classic Hollywood was all about, we havebeen touching upon, what new Hollywood was of all about, and we also know what the Frenchnew wave cinema was all about, right.Now just watch a clipping from Beatles’ ‘A hard day’s night’and then recall all your classes, recall whatever we have been doing so far and tell me how it fits?Let me tell you the year, it is sixty four;1964remember this was also the period when people were making Turkeys like; ‘Cleopatra’Twentieth Century fox almost ruined itself while making ‘Cleopatra’ which was a critical commercial disaster.But why do you think this movie made it so big?It is all over Beatles playing themselves.So, have Paul, Ringo, George and John and they are just being there in their natural selves.What are they doing? What is happening here?Student: Beatle mania. Betel mania captured. So, what are we talkingabout; we are talking about a different kind of hero, and they are not heroic heroes.They are just playing themselves, boys next door; ordinary, regular boys from Liver pool whomade it big and they are being themselves. So, absolutely un-star, it does not, Beatle mania;yes, but when you see, when you walk with them, when you when you go; it is a road movie,that is also important, remember this is the period when cinema started coming out of the studios.So, we no longer, we will not find sets here, it is not about sets.It is all about shooting on locations;there are beautiful set pieces in this film which are absolutely shot on locations.Handheld camera; otherwise how will you captured Beatles being chased by millions of fans on streets.So, cinema came out on the streets and equipmentgot lighter and lighter as oppose to those camera which would studios, DOP’s (director of photography)would put on Tripods, heavy cameras etcetera.So, what did they, what did they do to filmmaking?A freedom, a liberation and also led to democratisation of cinema.So, we often use the word democratisation; how social networking siteshave brought about a huge change in social, cultural, scenario.Democratisation; everyone has the right to express opinions.Now, Richard Lester here showed us that everyonecan, anyone can make a film, provided that they have a right attitude.This movie also does not have a screen play. We were talking about classic Hollywood cinema,following what structure, three acts structures; exposition, climax and denouement.Here you will not find. It is absolutely episodic,un-heroic heroes; that what we were talking about yesterday, -un-heroic heroes,a shot on location and alsopeople who were young:heroes, actors who were very young, they are all in their early twenty’s.Grandfather is repeatedly ridiculedand made pun of, and he always referred to as he is very clean whatever that means;and he has to take it, all the jokes are where you know in your face, they made cheeky retardsand everyone, their manager, even a police; there is a beautiful scene where they areput behind the bars for creating lot of disturbance on the streets, and the way they handles the situation.So, extremely anti-authoritarian and anti-establishment; marked the Beatles when they were at their peak;it has all the beautiful song, but it is it not an Elvis Presley’s vehicle.Now, there is a difference Elvis Presley in the 50’s would repeatedlystar movies which capitalise only on his music. So, after every one minute you will have asong because we know this is what the people wanted, and the plots are very flimsy, un-watchablemovies barely one or two films, most of the Elvis Presley’s films are extremely unwatchable.But this is the movie which takes stardom with the bag of salt. They are absolutelyunconscious about their stardom, do not take it is seriously and that you know, that attitude shows.So, that is what marked the new Hollywood, the new wave cinema.So, we were talking about Counterculture, and this is the background.So, there is this novel called, ‘Junkie’ by William Burroughs who was a known edict and we are told thatmany of his great novels which have today become like bibles of counterculture movement,they were written under the influence. He was one of the earliest literature of protest,and anti-establishment most of his works.‘Junkie’ one of his earliest known worksand then it came on the heels of ‘Catcher in the Rye’ by J. D. Salinger which is againa very protest kind of novel against establishment and authority.Another important book, (1956) Allen Ginsberg’s Howl; and it is begins famously with the well-known lines,‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical, naked’;that is the howl, that is the protest literature.And protest against what; tyrannical tendencies of post-war America,its gross and blatant commercialisationand intolerance towards the marginalised people, people who are on the fringes of society.‘On the road’ by Kerouac (1957) and it is a very important work because it marks,it is tells you that real America is not centred on a few major cities whether rich or duel.But in order to understand the country, you have to be on the road. And it was based onstory of Dean Moriarty and Sal paradise in 1947.Has anyone read this book in this class?You have. Student: I think, they made a movie on this.Recent movie, it is a very un-filmable book let me tell you. So, it is just like,‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ by Hunter. S. Thompson; the earlier one did pretty wellwith Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro but the recent one ‘The Rum Diary’, the rum dairyagain by Hunter. S. Thompson and again with Johnny Depp, they are very close Hunter. S. Thompsonand Johnny Depp very close friends. So, therefore Johnny Depp must have felt ofobligated to star in the movie, but it did not do well at all.So, Beat writers, what were their; we were just talking about the Beat writersGinsberg, William Burrughs, and what was their significance;their enormous influence on the popular culture,not just in America but it was also felt in India, I mean you look at Dev Anand’s moviesof the late 60’s and early 70’s ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’, it is a complete outand out protest film, if you have watched the movie. How many of you know ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’?You must know you must watch the movie; it has the original Dum Maro Dum song.Psychedelic art,I am very sure you know, if you do not know please make a note on these things,you should know these terms.What is Psychedelic art?Again, it’s a kind of protest art; it is it is absolutely unconventional.If you were just talking about the hippies of that period,they would wear tunique and T-shirts with Psychedelic art, so going against the established kind of art.Rock music; again a very protest kind of music, hippie movement.The term ‘Beat’ was first given by John Holmes in 1952 in New York Times.This is the beat generation,and the original play was within by Jack Kerouac.They believed that they are pleading for freedom from the cultural stasis. You know that, you know societyis a state of stasis and it needs some dynamism, it needs a revolution and that is what the movement,that is what the practitioners of counterculture movement thought they are going to bring about.And another interesting feature is they bemoaned the decline of masculinity.America has been emasculated; remember we were talking about momism.So, they are not arguing for hyper-masculinity;Schwarzenegger and Stallone kind of hyper-masculinity butthey are talking more about an assertive, and yet sensitive kind of masculinity as embodied byBrando and Dean, so those were the heroes of that period.Beat generation, beat is generally explained as an American social and literary movement of the 50’swhich was centre on the bohemians artist communities of San Francisco, California and parts of New York.So, when you think Woodstock nation, where did it takes place, Woodstock; up states New York.So, these were the centres where these cultural revolutions or cultural movements were taking place.The practitioners call themselves as ‘beat’;and you know it is like, I am beat, I am vary, and vary of what, of the existing system,of the existing establishment and way of life.Sometimes, they are also called ‘Beatnikssame thing.They express their alienation from the mainstream society by adopting unconventionaldress code that we have already seen; they would grow their hair long, experiment a lot.They had an ironic manner and their vocabulary was peppered with slang; much of the currentlingo that we find especially among the youth and sub-cultures groups that is you know,these are all children of the beats.They were largely a political, but then of coursethey were influenced by that entirely new left movement. Some of you are; I am sureyou are familiar with what is new left and they were influenced by that but extremely anti-warthat was their politics.Ken Kesey’s ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s nest’ (1962) novel,it is an important work; because again it marks rebellion and revolt against the establishment.The mental hospital which we see in the movie, how many of you have watched the movie?Good, quite a few. So, watch the movie and then you will seethat it is not just mental asylum, but it is also a kind of social order that the hero is protesting against.The hospital becomes a representative of a society which demandsconformity, and the hero refuses to confirm. Who does he align with,who does he align with?Student: The marginalisedThe marginalised, people who are on the fringes of the society, and he is forever forced tobecome normal person and what is normal according to them;become like everyone else and which something the protest is against.So, ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s nest’ in another words depicts the parallels of living in a societywhere conformity is a key to survivaland that is what the hero’s protest against; that was the movie which made Jack Nicholson a superstar.Which was his most well-known work before that?Student: Easy Rider.Easy Rider.Now, ‘Woodstock Nation’,Woodstock nation is a term coined by Abbie Hoffman, a journalist.And there was another sociologist,cultural critics, Bruce Schulman who said, ‘The counterculture relied on music as ameans of communication, a communal ritual, and gathering of the tribes’.This is important to understand the role of music, but there was a period in history where music servedto unite group of like-minded people; and this is the important, this is the relevance of Woodstock.And later on the term came about Woodstock nation, but then we were talkingabout all these great Hollywood directors who first participated in Woodstock nation;they came to there, Scorsese we were just talking about. So, that he was the one ofthe participants and later on he made a movie based on it; it was a documentary, I am nottalking about the angle-movie which is pretty recent, but there is a, that there are coupleof documentaries on these rock stars, and Woodstock movement by Martin Scorsese;Martin Scorsese is a renowned lover of music, I am sure you all of you known that,he has made a documentary and Bob Dylan also, and I am sure that Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’.Michael Jackson’s video ‘Bad’, music video is directed by Scorsese. And if you watchthe video you find that Scorsese’s signature all over; we are talking about auteurism,we will talk about auteur theory in much greater details soon but then you go and watch ‘Bad’Michel Jackson’s music video and you will findhow Martin Scorsese leaves his stamps, his footprints all over.So, what was Woodstock, just to recap;it was a three day music festival organised in New York in 1969.Essentially, it was to participatein music concert and it was open air, and where people would you know just chat, hanger around together,they are so called ‘cool’, groups of people coming together like minded, anti-war and all that.So, soon it became a sort of community, and then who were thegreats, participants who performed at this event; Jimi Hendrix, Richie Havens and numerous others.So, became a very important period in American historyand it is at the centre of the so called ‘counterculture’ movement.Some of the books that detailed Woodstockand its influence on counterculture movement they are; ‘Woodstock: the oral history’ by Joel Makowerand ‘Back to the garden: story of Woodstock, it is by Pete Fornatele.If there are books written on that movement, on that particular event, you must imaginehow important it must have been.‘The Wild One’ by Brando (1953); we were talking about this one of the major biker movies of that period;and look at the Brando, and look at the way he dressed in the movie.Absolutely against, I mean you will never find Cary Grant or James Stewart or all thegreat Alfred Hitchcockian heroes in this, not like this. I mean, I am soon going todo Howard Hawks as an auteur and Hitchcock as an auteur; I think we need to do that,and you will understand that fashion was the very integral part in Hitchcock, he was obsessed with looks;especially I mean of course heroes had to be good looking and well dressed, butthen so were heroines, he was specially fussy over the way heroine should look.I am not just talking about his obsession with cool, icy blonds not just that, but he was alsovery finicky about how they would appear and dress. But in movies like, ‘The Wild one’ and allyou should look at the girls, they are all like mothers of so called counterculture girls, the hippie girls.So, it is a movie starring the great Brando and the great Lee Marvin.Are you familiar with the movie called ‘Point Blank’? Watch the movie ‘Point Blank’, the 60s movie.‘The big Heat’ that is another important film.Lee Marvin essentially, he played negative roles,but then he also a very influential character artist.In ‘Point Blank’ he is a leading man; it is a very violent, very graphically violent kind of a film.There was a critic called Crowther, are you aware of that?Are you aware of the Pauline Kael?Pauline Kael you know, people at the back are you aware of PaulineKael, and I often refer to Pauline Kael as an important critic, film critic; before Kaelthere was Crowther, and people like Crowther was extremely against this brand of cinemas;The Wild One’, ‘Point Blank’, ‘Bonnie and Clyde’. In fact, Crowther almost finishedoff Bonnie and Clyde by giving it very negative review, Pauline Kael reviewed it.So, when we talk about one of our later classes would be all about; what film writing all about,how critics can influence public opinions.So, Crowther almost killed the movie, andone of the movies he had attacked during that period was Lee Marvin’s ‘Point Blank’ for its violence.They were all very conventional very conservative kind of people who justwanted films to be nice vehicles of some kinds of telling a nice things about, lets Frank Capra kind of cinemas;tells us the good things of life, entertains us for a whiles with good looking people and that is it.But ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ changed everything, ‘A hard day’s night’ changed the way films were made.So, the ‘The Wild One’ starring Lee Marvin, Brando; it was a trend set of for biker movies,so it a genre, it is a sub-genre. You know, we have a youth movies and then biker moviesare kind of sub-genre for this. And introduced the rootless drifter hero;Dean, Monty Clift and Brando were specialist in playing these heroes.It was one of the first movies to glamorise the misfit, the anti-social kind of a hero;otherwise, glamorous heroes were all, the hero that was glamorised were all the glamorous heroes;Cary Grant, Bogart.Anti-establishment Bogart; yes for his time but otherwise when you compare himto Brando and Dean, he would look very conventional.The word ‘Beatle’ is first used in this movie for the first time,and that is how our Beatle got their names. And, it is like cheeks are there,so ‘Beatles are there waiting for you’ there is a line in the movie,and the Beatles derived for their name for that group.Norman Mailer another important maverick,anti-establishment writer.Are you familiar with him?So, he wrote ‘Armies’,the armies of the nightwhich won the Pulitzer award.Just look it up, what it is all about.And then Norman Mailer also credited with coining the word ‘a white negro’, this is veryimportant to understand; a sort of showing solidarity with the black people of America.How do you showing solidarity with them;by dressing like them, by speaking like them, by following their music.So, although you have born white culturally you start getting more and moreadapted to the black way of life that is one way of showing solidarity towards them.So, Norman Mailer is the one who gave us the term ‘The white negro’.Another important movie of this period is 1970's ‘Five Easy Pieces’,starring Jack Nicholson, so Jack Nicholson by this time already become a very major actor.1969, another major event that happenedwhich at the centre of cultural and political practices of that time is ‘Stonewall riots in New York City’.And there was a gay bar called Stonewall Inn, and then a police raid took place,and harassed and beat up the people who had gathered there.So, it was the first instance of this kind, and there were series of violent demonstration against the policeharassment, against the gay people.And this was a defining movement which subsequently launched the guy rights movement.So, what are we talking about, who are the people who are now occupying the centre stage;the minority, not just the guy, we are talkingabout people had been, who had been of the fringes of the society, the marginalised people.Counterculture movement was among all other things, a way to integrate them; so it wasnot just some cool, young movement taking place, many people think the counterculturewas all about ‘Dum Maro Dum’; hippies coming together, drugs, smoking, pre-sex, no