Manual American Cinema/American Culture, 4th edition

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Ideal for Introduction to American Cinema courses, American Film History courses, and Introductory Film Appreciation courses, this text provides a cultural overview of the phenomenon of the American movie-going experience. Written by Ed Sikov, this guide introduces each topic with an explanatory overview written in more informal language, suggests screenings and readings, and offers self-tests.

American cinema/American culture (Book, ) []

Instructors and students can now access their course content through the Connect digital learning platform by purchasing either standalone Connect access or a bundle of print and Connect access. McGraw-Hill Connect R is a subscription-based learning service accessible online through your personal computer or tablet.

Choose this option if your instructor will require Connect to be used in the course. This binder-ready, loose-leaf version includes free shipping. Other books in this series. Hitchcock Truffaut Francois Truffaut. Add to basket. Nasze Nikifory Joanna Kos. The Lavender Bus Al Clark. Plac Zbawiciela Krzysztof Krauze. Wszystko co kocham Jacek Borcuch. Rating details. Book ratings by Goodreads. Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews.

We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X. Learn about new offers and get more deals by joining our newsletter. One example of a popular American myth, one that dates back to the writings of Thomas Jefferson and other founders, is an emphasis on individualism—a celebration of the common man or woman as a hero or reformer. With the rise of mass culture, the myth of the individual became increasingly appealing because it provided people with a sense of autonomy and individuality in the face of an increasingly homogenized culture.

The hero myth finds embodiment in the Western, a film genre that was popular from the silent era through the s, in which the lone cowboy, a semi-nomadic wanderer, makes his way in a lawless, and often dangerous, frontier.

American Cinema American Culture, 4th Edition

From until , Westerns accounted for nearly a quarter of all films produced. John Belton, introduction to Movies and Mass Culture, ed. John Belton, Griffith recognized nearly a century ago, film has enormous power as a medium to influence public opinion. More recently, films like Hotel Rwanda , about the Rwandan genocide, or The Kite Runner , a story that takes place in the midst of a war-torn Afghanistan, have captured audience imaginations by telling stories that raise social awareness about world events. And a number of documentary films directed at social issues have had a strong influence on cultural attitudes, and have brought about significant change.

In the s, documentaries, particularly those of an activist nature, were met with greater interest than ever before. Films like Super Size Me , which documents the effects of excessive fast-food consumption, and criticizes the fast-food industry for promoting unhealthy eating habits for profit, and Food, Inc. Other documentaries intended to influence cultural attitudes and inspire change include those made by director Michael Moore. His film Bowling for Columbine, for example, addressed the Columbine High School shootings of , presenting a critical examination of American gun culture.

Filmmaking is both a commercial and artistic venture. The current economic situation in the film industry, with increased production and marketing costs, and lower audience turnouts in theaters, often sets the standard for the films big studios are willing to invest in. If you wonder why theaters have released so many remakes and sequels in recent years, this section may help you to understand the motivating factors behind those decisions.

In the movie industry today, publicity and product are two sides of the same coin. Even films that get a lousy critical reception can do extremely well in ticket sales, if their marketing campaigns manage to create enough hype. Similarly, two comparable films can produce very different results at the box office, if they have been given different levels of publicity. Ever since the rise of the studio system in the s, the majority of films have originated with the leading Hollywood studios. Today, the six big studios control 95 percent of the film business.

However, studios are no less influential. The previews of coming attractions that play before a movie begins are controlled by the studios.

While it may seem like the major studios are making heavy profits, moviemaking today is a much riskier, less profitable enterprise than it was in the studio system era. The massive budgets required for the global marketing of a film are huge financial gambles. Because studios know they can rely on certain predictable elements to draw audiences, they tend to invest the majority of their budgets on movies that fit the blockbuster mold. Remakes, movies with sequel setups, or films based on best-selling novels or comic books are safer bets than original screenplays or movies with experimental or edgy themes.

While the blockbuster still drives the industry, the formulaic nature of most Hollywood films of the s, s, and into the s, has opened a door for independent films to make their mark on the industry. Audiences have welcomed movies like Fight Club , Lost in Translation , and Juno as a change from standard Hollywood blockbusters. Few independent films reached the mainstream audience during the s, but a number of developments in that decade paved the way for their increased popularity in the coming years. The Sundance Film Festival originally the U. Film Festival began in Park City, Utah, in , as a way for independent filmmakers to showcase their work.

Since then, the festival has grown to garner more public attention, and now often represents an opportunity for independents to find market backing by larger studios. In the s and s, independent directors like the Coen brothers, Wes Anderson, Sofia Coppola, and Quentin Tarantino made significant contributions to contemporary cinema. The French New Wave was characterized by an independent production style that showcased the personal authorship of its young directors. The generation of young, film school-educated directors that became prominent in American cinema in the late s and early s owe a good deal of their stylistic techniques to the work of French New Wave directors.

In the current era of globalization, the influence of foreign films remains strong. The rapid growth of the entertainment industry in Asia, for instance, has led to an exchange of style and influence with U. At the same time, U. With the growth of Internet technology worldwide, and the expansion of markets in rapidly developing countries, American films are increasingly finding their way into movie theaters and home DVD players around the world. In the eyes of many people, the problem is not the export of a U. Just as films of the s helped to shape a standardized, mass culture as moviegoers learned to imitate the dress and behavior of their favorite celebrities, contemporary film is now helping to form a mass culture on the global scale, as the youth of foreign nations acquire the American speech, tastes, and attitudes reflected in film.

Staunch critics, feeling helpless to stop the erosion of their national cultures, accuse the United States of cultural imperialism through flashy Hollywood movies and commercialism—that is, deliberate conquest of one culture by another to spread capitalism. At the same time, others argue that the worldwide impact of Hollywood films is an inevitable part of globalization, a process that erodes national borders, opening the way for a free flow of ideas between cultures. With control of over 95 percent of U. However, the high costs of moviemaking today are such that even successful studios must find money-making potential in crossover media—computer games, network TV rights, spinoff TV series, DVD and releases on Blu-ray Disc format, toys and other merchandise, books, and other aftermarket products—to help recoup their losses.

The drive for aftermarket marketability, in turn, dictates the kinds of films studios are willing to invest in.

July 1, 12222

In the days of the vertically integrated studio system, filmmaking was a streamlined process, neither as risky nor as expensive as it is today. When producers, directors, screenwriters, art directors, actors, cinematographers, and other technical staff were all under contract with one studio, turnaround time for the casting and production of a film was often as little as 3 to 4 months.

This is still true of filmmaking today. Where does such an astronomical budget go? When weighing the total costs of producing and releasing a film, about half of the money goes to advertising. Below-the-line costs include the salaries for non-starring cast members and technical crew, use of technical equipment, travel, locations, studio rental, and catering. Because 3D ticket prices are more expensive than traditional 2D theaters, the box-office returns are inflated.

However, for every expensive film that has made out well at the box office, there are a handful of others that have tanked. Movie piracy used to be perpetrated in two ways: either someone snuck into a theater with a video camera, turning out blurred, wobbly, off-colored copies of the original film, or somebody close to the film leaked a private copy intended for reviewers. Even safeguard techniques like digital watermarks are frequently sidestepped by tech-savvy pirates.

Within a week, more than 1 million people had downloaded the pirated film. New technologies have a profound impact, not only on the way films are made, but also on the economic structure of the film industry. When VCR technology made on-demand home movie viewing possible for the first time, filmmakers had to adapt to a changing market. The recent switch to digital technology also represents a turning point for film.

In this section, you will learn how these and other technologies have changed the face of cinema.

American Cinema/American Culture / Edition 4

Two years later, RCA released the vertical helical scan VHS system of recording, which would eventually outsell Betamax, though neither device was yet a popular consumer product. Within several years however, the concept of home movie recording and viewing was beginning to catch on. In , Columbia Pictures released 20 films for home viewing, and a year later Disney entered the market with the first authorized video rental plan for retail stores. By , VCRs were still relatively uncommon, found in just 10 percent of American homes, but within 2 years the device had found a place in nearly one-third of U.

At the same time, video rental stores began to spring up across the country. In , three major video rental chains—Blockbuster, Hastings, and Movie Gallery—opened their doors. Video sales and rentals opened a new mass market in the entertainment industry—the home movie viewer—and offered Hollywood an extended source of income from its films.

On the other hand, the VCR also introduced the problem of piracy. If people could watch movies in their own homes, would they stop going to the movies altogether?