Hollywood's Techno-Blockbuster Mentality
Eby, Lloyd, The World and I
As success breeds success, blockbusters breed blockbusters, and Tinseltown's craze for special-effects spectaculars is crowding out more subtle fare.
More than any other art, cinema depends on technology, and from its beginnings Hollywood has commanded technical powers that exist nowhere else in the world. In his exquisite autobiography My Last Sigh, the great Spanish surrealist film director Luis Bunuel wrote of his astonishment at the technical capabilities he saw in Hollywood's studios when he arrived there in 1930 (by that time, with Salvador Dali, he had already directed two cinema classics, Un Chien andalou and L'Age d'or).
I remember marveling on the
back lot at an entire half of a
ship which had been miraculously
reconstructed in an enormous
swimming pool. Everything
was set up for a shipwreck
tanks were ready to spill their
contents down colossal toboggan
runs onto the floundering
vessel. I was goggle-eyed at the
machinery and the superb
quality of the special effects. In
these studios everything
seemed possible; had they
wanted to they could have
reconstructed the universe.
Since the existence of any capability tends to lead to its use, the elaborate technical facilities at Hollywood's command have influenced the kind of movies it is predisposed to make. Why these complex facilities developed in the United States more than elsewhere is a matter of speculation, but perhaps Yankee know-how (the genius for creating a habitable world out of "wilderness"), combined with Americans' optimistic belief in realizing their wildest dreams--together with the fact that this land basically escaped the physical ravages of world wars and twentieth-century revolutions--were factors. At any rate, throughout its history, Hollywood has tended to make films that utilize and even depend on its vast technical powers--movies that emphasize spectacle, special effects, or "universe reconstructions," to use …
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Publication information: Article title: Hollywood's Techno-Blockbuster Mentality. Contributors: Eby, Lloyd - Author. Magazine title: The World and I. Volume: 13. Issue: 9 Publication date: September 1998. Page number: 124+. © 1999 News World Communications, Inc. COPYRIGHT 1998 Gale Group.
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