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New Hollywood Wave

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Good morning. And this is about all our lectures have been leading us towards, ‘The New Hollywood’.And what was this Hollywood new wave, so-called Hollywood new wave. And in one of my earlierclasses, I have mentioned that if there is a new Hollywoodthen there has to be an old Hollywood as well.So, what was that old Hollywood? Student: ClassicClassic Hollywood, any other term for that? Student: Golden ageGood, “Golden Age of Hollywood”. And when you look at key concept that we are goingto revise today, so classic Hollywood of course we will revisit very briefly today.So, remember what was the features of the plot, how was the story told, the narrative,how was the character is sketched in old Hollywood system? What was the concept of stardom all about;think close ups, think photography, think the acting style. The studio system; you rememberthe studio system, how studios controlled stars and everything that came with it,the complete act of movie making, editing style, music.So, these are the key concepts that we will be thinking and discussing todaywith reference to new Hollywood. But you should always be able to revisit classic Hollywood alsoagainst this background because that is where we come from.So, what was the background of new Hollywood?There was a Motorcycle club established in 1953 by Rocky Graves,it was called Hell’s Angels Motorcycle club.And they were known for their free spirited, iconic and bound by brotherhood and loyalty tendencies.When you watch a movie like Marlon Brando’s, which movie we have been talking about;the biker movie, “The Wild One”. When you think of “The Wild One”, came somewhere in early 50’s.Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper’s definitive, the seminal movie; this is themovie that heralded age of new wave Hollywood; “Easy rider”, and when was this released, in 1967.But biker movies were nothing new. We had “The Wild One” and after that,we had several ‘B’ categories, the so-called ‘B’ movies of biker genre.Peter Fonda himself is starred in a movie called “The Wild Angels”, which was yet another biker movie.So, that preceded this. So, Peter Fonda was anyway a biker. A biker star as we call as.So, John Wayne was the ultimate western on a, western hero on a horseback.Here, we had another kind of hero always on a bike. And Dennis Hopper, let me tell you he hatedbikes as much as Peter Fonda loved them. You know Peter Fonda come from Hollywood royalty.His father is the great Henry Fonda and sister is another great Jane Fonda. So, that is his background.So, this is one thing that ushered in the era of the new Hollywood movement.So, why are we interested in ‘Hell’s Angels and Motorcycle clubs things like that;because they suggested free spiritedness, and that is how we will be are. And that is what Hollywoodnew wave was all about, how it came about. Now, that was also period when certain culturalrevolutions were taking place in America. And the music scene; who are the people in foreground,Bob Dylan and the Doors, so that is one thing; the kind of music they wrote,the kind of performances that they excelled in. It all suggested a revolution of sortsfrom what was happening before. Elvis Presley; many people quoted Elvis Presley also.But he was very tamed, very orthodox as compared to these people. Elvis after all apart fromhis dance movements, he was quite conservative; he upheld the traditional values and beliefsbut not Bob Dylan, not the Doors. So, that is the importance of that, the period,the music of that period. We also had people like; Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, David Bowie,Andy Warhol; the ultimate and cool in popular culture, in popular art. You know the Campbell’sSoup Cans, the entire story; yes, if you do not know please do that, The Marilyn,the Elizabeth Taylor, Prince.Google, Andy Warhol, and you will understand; so that is another name that you should know.In popular culture, now we are talking about pop cultureand Andy Warholthat is an important name.So, influence of these people; so, we are going towards this kind of cinema.And, we are looking at the socio-political- historical context in which new Hollywood cinema can be located.So, these things are very important. When you look at something, if there is anew Hollywood then there has to be a background to it. So, these were the factors that led to theemergence of new Hollywood. There was not something radical happening.There were no single factor but a variety of factors; which were all belong to popular culture, politicsas well as other things, even cinema.So, Europeans cinema was yet another major influence on new Hollywood cinema.For example, “Blowup”; Blowup was a cultural revolution in terms of cinema.Of course, we had “Eight and a half” by Fellini, of course we had Godard,but then “Blowup” by Antonioni was his first English movie in English language.It was made in Britain with British actors;remember that Vanessa Redgrave andDavid Hemmings.So, that is the background. An “Alfie” with Michael Caine; again, what is “Alfie” all about?It is about a free spirited young man of a particular society.So, entire age, the entire movement was influenced in one; if you, if there hasto be a take away, what is that take away? Anti-establishment, Anti-authoritarian andfree spiritedness; those were the three features that characterized the entire movement.And, Vimal would know that, from 80’s onwards it was a throwback to the earlier times; eighties onwards,when we had cinema of Sylvester Stallone and Schwarzenegger. So, it was actually hackingback to the John Wayne category. But, in between there was period which was very radical.And, Hollywood is, let us be very clear about it. Much of the respect that Hollywood enjoysis centered or it emanates from this cinema, this particular period, the so-called new Hollywood cinema;the ten, fifteen years of excellence in cinema.So, golden age yes, Otto Preminger’s yes very important; Hitchcock, Billy Wilder,they were always there but then after that there was a lull. And, what caused, what brought about that lull,those are also the factor that we will be looking at.Ok. Now, political causes that led to the emergence of New Hollywood cinema;people were feeling a kind of unrest with the political system,the war in Vietnam and there were protest against the war, lots of anti-war feelings.You should also know something about the 1968, Democratic Convention in Chicago,where students came out in University campusesand protested against many of the US foreign policies.Major political assassinations: Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.So, that is Robert Kennedy. And then, Stonewall Riots,also J F K but that came before. Robert Kennedy was in late sixties along with Martin Luther King;back to back two major political assassinations.So, what was, what did they suggest? What did they symbolize?Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther,what did they stand for?Liberalism.And, there are regressive forces which do not want liberals totake pot or take the center stage that is the idea.Therefore, they have to be eliminated and assassinated. So, the move, this entire Hollywood New wavecinema was also response to these things. And of course you know, Stonewall Riots, Anti-gay riots;and what happened, and we have response that also in the form of “Dog Day Afternoon”. Yes.We have seen that movie.Now, Hollywood new wave the immediate causes;of course there were socio-political and cultural causes but the immediate factor was of coursemoney, like most of the time. And, the reason was that in the mid-sixties because of theinvasion and proliferation of so many television channels. Television became very big that time.So, people chose to stay at home and watch films at home instead of going out to the theaters.So, in US theater attendance was declining fast.So, the filmmakers wanted to give them something new, bring the public back to the theaters.So, what do they give them, what can inspire, what can motivate these people to come back to the theaterthat is the idea.And, what was the reason why people did not want to go to the theaters anymore?Well, there were mindless star vehicles; just you know, puttingtogether bunch of stars and making a movie around them without much attention to thenarrative, the plot, and the acting styles; but it was just like that, musicals, for example“Doctor Dolittle” which followed that tremendous success of “My Fair Lady” starring againRex Harrison, “Doctor Dolittle” not Edie Murphy’s but Rex Harrison version of it,which bombed badly. Bloated epics; for example, “Cleopatra”, so these were the thing and“Cleopatra” almost led to the closing down of Twentieth century Fox Studios.It was such debacle.So, studios were sinking.And, what happens when studios are sinking?The producers thought that we have to think of new way of a story telling,give chance to the newer people, new actors, new directors and experiment withnew forms of a story telling, new forms of movies that was the idea.And, they started looking towards Europe. There is a revolution happening in Europe; there is Fellini.There is a movie called, “L’Avventura” where nothing actually happens but it became big.“Blowup”; what is the plot of “Blowup”? We do not know. Well, you can think about it.But there is no story as such; much of it is in style. So, they thought why not focuson style and it gives audience something to think over without telling them too muchor giving them too much of melodrama, so that was the idea.Another major influence was development in Science and Technology.And, there were people, documentary specialist who practiced something called Cinema Verite;that means real life cinema, realistic cinema; verite is real.So these people; Richard Leacock,Pennebaker and the Maysle brothers,what did they do? They developed cheap, lightweight and easily accessible equipments.And, what did this lead to; what Godard did, and what peoplelike Vittorio De Sica did in “Bicycle Thieves”. They could take these equipments out of thestudios and shoot real people and real life on streets, so, development of lightweight equipments.So, New Hollywood cinema just did not happen in a vacuum.There were socio-political, cultural, reasons, also technical causes and political causes.So, it was a combination of several factors that led to the emergence of the so-calledNew Wave Hollywood cinema. Otherwise, we would not have movie like “Easy rider”.If big movies, big budgeted movie, big star vehicle were still doing well then why do you needto invest in a movie like “Easy Rider”, so that is the thing.So, “Easy Rider” is at the center of the entire movement. Now, there was also a movie which came a fewmonths before “Easy rider” and this is called “Bonnie and Clyde”. We have already talked about it.And, because of its anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment theme, it came as the shock to the system.Andrew Sarris, who we have already discussed; he referred to the movieas ‘cinema of alienation, anomie, anarchy and absurdism’, but all these things in very positive context.And, who was Arthur Penn? The director; and he famously said,‘We are in the Vietnam War, and that is the way movies have to be made.This film cannot be immaculate and sanitized and bang-bang’. It has to be bloody. And, why it should be bloody?It reflects the sentiments of that period. So, you cannot just have gunshots,you just hear a gunshots somewhere on screen and then see a long take, a long shot of adead body without any blood that is how murders would be shot on screen.You were talking about “Laura” on Otto Preminger; it is about a murder that happens,Laura is a supposedly murdered.You never see any dead body, you never see any bloodshed, you do not, you justhear a gunshot going somewhere. That was the maximum violence.“The Big Sleep” was considered a very violent movie for its times, Howard Hawks’ “The Big Sleep”.But where is the blood there? So, here the movies cannot afford to be sanitized any more.Why? After all, there were world wars; a First World War, Second World War, and then also Americahad been through serious bloodshed. All these movies were in one way a response to Vietnam;“Taxi driver”, “Deer hunter”, “Apocalypse Now” of course goes to the heart of the action.So, this is the movie in 1967.“Bonnie and Clyde”; Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway,directed by Arthur Penn.Robert Towne worked on the screenplay of “Bonnie and Clyde”.At the same time, you also had a movie like the“Graduate”; again extremely anti-authoritarian starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft,directed by Mike Nichols.The first wave directors; here, you see a still of the great, which director is he? John Cassavetes.He was also an actor. He was the leading man in which movie?“Rosemary’s Baby”.Yes. So, the first wave directors; here is the list and it is a hall of fame like list.Peter Bogdanovich, we will talk about him.We have already discussed Francis Ford Coppola; extensively “The God Father”.Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda; “Easy Rider”.John Cassavetes’ several movies which need attention.Arthur Penn, Mike Nichols and Kubrick;so there were two waves of New Hollywood cinema directors, this is the first wave.Second wave, of course you know is Scorsese at the forefront.Cassavetes, for example in one way became a mentor to Scorsese. He was the one who encouragedhim to go on, when he first watched his movie; “Who’s that knocking at my door”.Now, what was happening here in the New Hollywood scenario? Directors, rather than studios orproducers or stars; directors enjoyed more power, more prestige and consequently greater wealth.So, the attention was now on the directors. And they did not call themselves just directors,they were not Metteurs en scene; remembering those words,Metteurs en scene, just puttingtogether a scene; but they became auteurs. So, they prided themselves on becoming auteurs.Therefore, they assumed the mantle of the artist; they are not merely Metteurs en sceneand developed personal styles, distinct from that of other directors. And, this is somethingyou will find, like we have been talking about auterurism in Hitchcock extensively; you haveto understand that auteurism always existed, but here it was taken to another level becausegreater degree of freedom existed. Now “Bonnie and Clyde”, it need some attention.And, the story was original. It is a real life story. There were bank robbers calledBonnie and Clyde during the depression era. And, this story appeared in a magazine called“Esquire”, which is still in circulation by Robert Benton and David Newman,Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.And the story, the screenplay was much appreciatedby Warren Beatty who also wanted to produce the film. And therefore, he was in conflictwith Warner brothers because Warner brothers till that time were not used to having told what to do.But then Warren Beatty convinced them this is that, this is a new kind of astory which needs to be told using new technology, all those things that we have been talking about;shooting on locations, handheld cameras, showing lot of blood and gore and violence,graphic violence on screen. So, Beatty somehow convinced Warner Brothers that this movieneeds to be produced. But then they said that, “we will pay you very little for this”.He said, “Fine. I will take, I will have share in the profits of the movie”.And, they naturally thought that anyhow this movie is not going to make any profit.So this, they signed away the profits of the movies to the actor. And then, we all know what happened.The movie became a huge hit, the phenomenal hit. Warren Beatty became an iconic figure.So, they were bank robbers and most of the casting was done from New York as opposedto from Hollywood, a standard Hollywood assembly line productions.Violence was extremely real life;real life like, very similitude.And, one allegation and part of its charm was thatit brazenly romanticizes the outlaws, the misfits, the robbers and killers.Remember, “Bonnie and Clyde” are robbers and killers.Later on, Oliver stone paid homage to this movie in the form of “Natural born killer”.This was the first time when audiences watchedblasting holes on their screen. And, there is a scene, the movie followed Robert Kennedy’s assassination.His assassination had just happened. And when at the end in the climatic shootout,when warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are killed on screen by the cops; we actuallysee Warren Beatty’s head, part of his head shot off, that some kind, that kind of violencehad never been shown on screen before. Heroes head being shot off, part off it.How graphic would that be think of that! So, initially when the movie was first releasedit was absolutely trashed by the right wing critics like Bosley Crawther.He was a critic for the New York Times.And, he had a thing against violence on screen and he triaged the movie.If you just look up the criticism on the net, then you will find, you will see the language he uses for the movie.However, another esteemed critic Pauline Kael;she helped to revive its fortunes, its prospects. So, the movie was rereleased and then it wenton to become a block buster because Pauline Kael liked the movie a lot. And she, but seethat is the reason I was one of our earlier classes; we have been talking about how importanta film writing could be, writing about films. Some of you can perhaps think of a career in film writing.And, it is a very prestigious, very important. You are not just doing somekind of a service to anyone; you are actually doing a very academic job.If, writing is your thing, then film writing is a very serious profession. And, that is why we have so muchrespect for people like Roger Ebert and David Thomson and David Bordwell and Pauline Kael,who raised you know, profession of criticism and film writing to the level of art.A little before “Bonnie and Clyde”, you have a movie called “A Hard Day’s Night”;I think we have done excerpt from this movie also, the Beatles picture directed by Richard Lester.So, this movie in a way became a precursor to the entire movement,starring the Beatles as themselves.The Beatles picture; why was it important, because itwas a kind of a movie that defied genres. It is not a musical; it has music but it isnot a musical just to be a vehicle for the Beatles. It is not. The Beatles who are alreadya publicity phenomenon, starred in it.And, again like all new wave cinema it wasextremely an anti-authoritarian, something that people like Truffaut had taught us; “The 400 blows’,Godard had told us in “Breathless”. So, it was continuing in the same tradition.The film is irreverent. You have seen how they treat their manager and all the older people in the movie.Extremely joys; they are being themselves and it is extremely original,there has never been any movie like that before. There were Elvis Presley movies, musicalsbut they are all not extremely tame, not in the same way.So, “A Hard day’s night” is also known for its immortal music.I do not know how many of you are into popular culture and Beatles, but the movie, songs are absolutely on top.And, Richard Lester is credited for reinventing the grammar of cinema.And we, by the grammar of cinema again we mean the same things; classic Hollywood.So, there has to be a plot, character, strong focus on characterization, there has to be a narrative.What narrative Vimal? What;Linear narrative and continuity, editing, remembered. But in “Easy rider” as you just watched.How many of you have watched or paid attention to the fact that editingwas not linear, there were jumps there; so-called jump cuts.Why?Who did the cinematography?Laszlo; you should know that name, Laszlo Kovacs. So, you have things like, the moviehas documentary look something which was unheard of till then.Used hand-held cameras and so much of shooting was done on location.Quick cutting; overlapping of dialogues, inter cutting of dialogues.The Beatles are always interviewed on the run and they are chased by fans as they are running on the street.And, music is under documentary action.So, it is almost like as a documentary on Beatles, but it is not. But the feel is that as ifit is a documentary, and it is shot in black and white in the times of color.So, that is the background that two major movies that heralded this new wave Hollywood cinema.One was “A Hard Day’s Night”, and much more graphic, much more forceful; “Bonnie and Clyde”.Now from here, we come to key people of new Hollywood period,BBS, three names; producer Bert Schneider.Now, usually in this course we have been talking about producers all that much, right.We talked about a studio system.We also talked about to an extent Cecil Demille, David Selznick “Gone with the wind”.So, we have been talking about some studio moguls, but we have not been talking too much aboutproducers; and how important producers were in fostering the New Hollywood Wave.So, Bert Schneider is at the top. He was a producer.And, they had a company called Raybert films which produced “Easy Rider”.Bob Rafelson was his creative head and his partner, his friend and also director.Steve Blauner. So, B B S comes from Bert, Bob and Steve;BBS,it was a company that enabled directors to make the kind of films they want to withoutinterfering and without trying to control them creatively.So, they are often credited for assuring in the cinematic renaissance of the sixties.So, BBS is the name that you should remember. The great Bert Schneider, the very colorfulpersonality known for several things, extremely innovative, extremely bold.So, Bert Schneider who won the Academy award for making a best documentaryrecently passed away in 2011.And, he came into the limelight with his production of “Easy Rider”.Bert Schneider had originallymade his money by producing a television serial called “The Monkees”, which was basedalong the same lines as “A Hard Day’s Night”. It was a musical television serial,starring four young men who would sing songs and their lives, almost in the same men as the Beatles.They were called “The Monkees”. And, it was a smash hit and then they madepots of money from “The Monkees”, and then went on to produce some serious cinema.So, what did they do? They encouraged the kind of cinema that demanded improvisation;breakdown of the linear editing system, quite brustian by the way they broke the fourth wall.And free-flowing loose narratives; did you find that in an “Easy Rider”, free-flowing narrative?Is there a narrative in “Easy Rider”? You have watched the movie Vimal, is there?Focus on him please (to video recorder); is there a narrative in “Easy Rider”?How much of it; I mean, is there a very strong plot? Is it plot driven?Student: I am not very sure, but closer may be not.That is a road movie. You cannot say that “Easy Rider” has a narrative because theynever had a screenplay of that movie. It was all improvise done on location.They did not know what they were doing. They would just go shoot a lot of stuff on streets andthen at the end, Bert Schneider set down and edited it out. And, the kind of movie thatwe see, if there is a plot then thanks to Bert Schneider’s efforts not because of Dennis Hopper.So, Bert Schneider, the producer did the editing. He was an extremely talented personand he took complete control over the movie because Dennis Hopper obviously wasnot that balanced enough to do, take control of such a monumental task like editing, andBert Schneider did it. So, you feel that there is a plot, but the fact is there is no story, no screenplay.They worked without any screenplay. Although, in the titles you find three peopleare credited with the story; Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Darry southern, they musthave done something, they must have thrown around bit of ideas here and there.But there was no screenplay. So, fluidity. That is what we are talking about. Fluidity and free flowingnarrative which was again that was pioneered by European filmmakers. By the same logic,I can even tell you that “Breathless” does not have a narrative; it does not havea closure, it does not have a narrative. It just flows. It is basically style is at the center, rather than plot.It is more about the kind of signature that you will leave behind,rather than creating a story; unlike the Howard Hawks' of the world, people whoare extremely talented but they were told to do a story. This is the story, stick to this screenplay,and make a movie out of it.New wave directors did not believed in it.It may appear very shocking to you, how such great cinema came out of such indiscipline!But that was the kind, that was part of their, you know, innovations.And, BBS then went on to direct a list of great films of the Hollywood New Wave era.Some of the most important films of this period are; of course, “Easy rider”, “Head”which was directed by Bob Rafelson. “Lost and Found”. “Five Easy Pieces”, starring who?Jack Nicholson, it is a very European in nature, “Drive, He Said”; directed by whom,“Drive, He Said”, it is directed by Jack Nicholson.“A safe place”, “The Last Picture Show”; we are going to talk about the film. “King of Marvin Gardens”.So, that is the BBS’s list, very avant-garde, very experimental kind of cinema.And, when you get your Coppola and when you get your Scorsese's, and someone like Peter Bogdanovichthen you have to credit the BBS for this. They were the one who started it.It was also the period when we have the movie by John Boorman’s “Point Blank” in 1967;and surprisingly, a very violent movie from the stable, from the house of MGM.It begins with a shot of a battered and almost dead Lee Marvin.It is extremely brutal, very obliqueand most unlike any movie that came out of any old studio system. But that was a periodwhen the studio heads thought that we have to encourage this sort of cinema in order to survive.Therefore, a movie like “Point Blank” came out.So, even old god started rethinking, renewing their strategies. Thus is the idea.Kubrick’s “2001” if you watched the movie, you will know what I am trying to tell you.It is extremely avant-gardist. Is there a plot? I am talking about the plot that wewere used to in the golden age of Hollywood. Do you get that kind of plot in “Easy Rider”or “Drive, He Said” or “2001: A Space Odyssey”? You don’t. Remember, cause andeffect, Cause and effect, always go back to that. Do you find that cause and effect thing here?Forget the closure; of course there was no closure in all these movies but thingsdid not happen because of that cause and effect model, a complete disintegration of that earlier model.Golden age is golden age because there were stronger stories that emphasize on narratives and plot; not here.Cassavetes; so, “Faces” is his important movie,and “A Women under the Influence” is yet another great movie by Cassavetes.New Hollywood cinema characterized by growth of independent, the so-called ‘indie cinema’,right Vimal; you keep on talking about ‘indie cinema’. So, power shifted from the studio to directors;less to actors but more to directors. And, emergence of the something called “The road movie”,literally coming out of the folds of the studio, another feature. Now,we were talking about editing;so old Hollywood, linear editing, new Hollywood: non-linear editing, discontinuous editing.So, fast motion, slow motion, long takes, jump cuts, and youjust watch the clipping from “Easy Rider” where you have lots of that Watch, the sceneof the wristwatch on the ground. What is that all about? How did that come about?Jump cut. We go back to that scene later on in the movie, so watch the film.So, editing was no longer unobtrusive, but called attention to itself.An emphasis on sync sound method, ‘that is recording the soundwhile filming the picture and not while dubbing’.In India, for a long time we had dubbing and we also had dubbing artist;heroines they just look pretty, but they cannot speak, they have no sense of dialogue delivery.So, you use them for their dancing skills and for their beauty and get the dialogues dubbed,anyway they did not have much to do in the movie. So, a dubbing artist would dub all their dialogues.So, that was something that continued for a very long time.“Klute” by Alan. J. Pakula in 1971; Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, so those were the stars of that period.And again it deals with the theme voyeurism. Voyeurism and theme ofsurveillance becomes very important in new Hollywood cinema. Why surveillance is so important?Vimal, can you tell me? Student: The Red ScareIt was there to an extent, cold war and all he is thinking of that. But one very immediate factor?Student: Watergate,Watergate scandal, so therefore paranoia in an American society; all of us are being inspired on,so voyeurism and surveillance.Avoidance of closure; satisfactory closure, openness.Ambiguity, even about characters; so no more good and bad people, but very morally ambiguous people;that is you will find even it Hitchcock, but now more and more widespread, more and more common.‘Conversation’ by Coppola; again, along the same lines; Coppola was following,it was one of is most personal film. So, he was following the Watergate breaking scandaland deals with the theme of surveillance.Gene Hackman as Harry Caul.And movie is again less about the plot and more of character study of the man;it is about him and what he goes through.The alienation of a man whose job is to spy on others, that is all.The famous toilet flushing scene is the homage to the shower scene in “Psycho”.Have you seen ‘The Conversation’? Have you? So, we are told that a murder is taking placein hotel room next door to Harry’s. He does not want to interfere. He does not try to stop the murder.Later on, much later when he enters that same room flushes the toiletit over flows with blood, and that is the very shocking image.Another important director of that period is Mike Nichols.