Radical Visions: American Film Renaissance, 1967-1976

Radical Visions: American Film Renaissance, 1967-1976

Radical Visions: American Film Renaissance, 1967-1976

Radical Visions: American Film Renaissance, 1967-1976

Synopsis

Radical Visions discusses an important period in American film history: Films such as Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Midnight Cowboy, Nashville, and Taxi Driver challenged the narrative structure and style of the classical Hollywood paradigm, transformed its conventional genres, exploded traditional American myths, and foregrounded a consciousness of the cinematic process. Film students, scholars, and aficionados will gain insight into generic conventions and narrative style presented within the cultural attitudes of the time.

Excerpt

In 1969, movies like The Wild Bunch and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid could still depict a need for heroes even in a time of moral confusion over the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and the sexual revolution, perhaps because of the moral confusion. However, by 1971, the mood of America had darkened, and movies released in that year reflected this change. Along with McCabe and Mrs. Miller, such movies as Carnal Knowledge, a Clockwork Orange, Dirty Harry, Klute, and Straw Dogs depicted a society excessively violent and morally bankrupt. Its "heroes," like Alex in a Clockwork Orange, or Harry, or David in Straw Dogs, answer to the most brutal instincts in us all, cancelling the traditional qualities we associate with heroism. the mood of the nation reflected in these films prefigured the disillusionment and despair which would follow upon the events which later became known as Watergate, revealing corruption in the highest places in the American government. No better Geiger counter exists to measure the temper of the times than the initial cynicism of The Godfather in 1972 and its culmination in the scathing critique of American capitalist society in The Godfather, Part ii, and Chinatown in 1974.

The critique of America in the Godfather films and Chinatown exists on the level of both genre and narration--in the transformation of the traditional gangster and detective films, inscribed through the modern sensibilities of an art cinema narration. For example, the Godfather films transform their genre by varying the subversion of the prosocial myth we find in Bonnie and Clyde. While the 1967 film overturns the prosocial myth of the traditional gangster film in favor of the myth of the rebel figure, the Godfather films shatter the myth by depicting criminality as the norm everywhere, implicating society at large as a reflection of the . . .

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