Hollywood, the Dream Factory: An Anthropologist Looks at the Movie-Makers

By Hortense Powdermaker | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
Directors

WHETHER the script is assembled or written, it is the director's job to translate it into a film. This is a key operation, for it is concerned with fusing techniques from the silent films with the latest technological developments and combining the unique characteristics of the movie medium with elements from theater and literature. These are not easy problems.

In any society, changes in technology and the introduction of new ideas are often accompanied by conflict and tension, since they require modifications not only of knowledge, but also of social organization, of attitudes and behavior. A familiar example is the Industrial Revolution, when machines replaced hand work. Back in prehistoric times, iron tools, when first introduced into a primitive society which had not gone beyond digging sticks and stone axes, were not always easily or quickly accepted. Many people did not know how to use the new tools efficiently, others did not like them, and makers of the old implements feared a loss of prestige. Gradually, the natives learned how to use the new tools and attitudes changed to one of acceptance.1 Only sentimentalists, in anthropology or in the movies, long to return to the earlier forms of primitive life or of films. Even if it wanted to, Hollywood could not go back to the more "pure" movie form which existed before the invention of the talkies. The real problem is not of a return to the past, but of integration of old and new. The question then is, which elements in the Hollywood social system help this integration and which retard it?

Movies introduced a new art, the essence of which is the manipulation of movement in time and space with a camera. Cutting, that

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1
Ralph Linton, The Study of Man, p. 342. New York: D. Appleton-Century.

-185-

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Hollywood, the Dream Factory: An Anthropologist Looks at the Movie-Makers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • Introduction - Why an Anthropologist Studied Hollywood 3
  • Chapter I - Habitat and People, Mythical and Real 16
  • Chapter II - Mass Production of Dreams 39
  • Chapter III - Taboos 54
  • Chapter IV - Front Office 82
  • Chapter V - Men Who Play God 100
  • Chapter VI - Lesser Gods, but Colossal 111
  • Chapter VII - The Scribes 131
  • Chapter VIII - Assembling the Script 150
  • Chapter IX - The Answers 170
  • Chapter X - Directors 185
  • Chapter XI - Acting, in Hollywood 205
  • Chapter XII - Stars 228
  • Chapter XIII - Actors Are People 254
  • Chapter XIV - Emerging from Magic 281
  • Chapter XV - Hollywood and the U.S.A. 307
  • Index 333
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