Το παρακάτω κείμενο το εμπνεύστηκα από ένα παρόμοιας φιλοσοφίας κείμενο του οικονομολόγου Ξεν. Ζολώτα, το έγραψα κατά τη διάρκεια των σπουδών μου στο Liverpool και αποτέλεσε τη βάση της μεταπτυχιακής μου εργασίας.
Το "ξετρύπωσα" πρόσφατα και διαβάζοντάς το διαπιστώνω για ακόμα μια φορά πόση επιρροή είχαμε ανά τους αιώνες στον υπόλοιπο κόσμο, στη συγκεκριμένη περίπτωση γλωσσικά αλλά, γενικότερα μιλώντας, σε τόσα επίπεδα που πιθανόν δε βάζει ο νους μας!
Σε αυτή τη δύσκολη εποχή που διανύουμε, με τόσα και τόσα πικρόχολα και ειρωνικά σχόλια να στρέφονται προς την Ελλάδα και τους Έλληνες, είναι σημαντικό να θυμόμαστε ακριβώς αυτό.
Κι ας σεβαστούμε πρώτοι τον εαυτό μας και την ιστορία μας για να ακολουθήσουν τον ίδιο δρόμο και οι ξένοι...
NEW HOLLYWOOD: ANATOMY OF A CINEMATIC PHENOMENON
by Anastasia Spirou,
The genesis of New Hollywood cinema in the late 1960s was a polymorphous phenomenon as well as the byproduct of a synthesis of historical, political and technological dynamics that characterised the epoch.
In the last three decades, critics and scholars have invariably emphasised the catalytic role of the post-war catastrophe of studio hegemony, which allowed new or peripheral phenomena to surface.
This argument is valid. Once monopolistic practices were eliminated, a new generation of directors, who had professed the grammar and syntax of cinema in film schools, and a group of enlightened producers were in a position to take over Hollywood and transform it.
Nonetheless, it would not be a hyperbole to argue that post-war European cinema was the real catalyst for the aesthetic and ideological metamorphosis of Hollywood.
The immediate post-war period had been one of acme for European cinema. France and Italy led the way with directors such as Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica, Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Alain Resnais, Federico Fellini and Michelangelo Antonioni, whose, to a great extent, empirical knowledge of cinematic conventions was adequate for the creation of innovative films.
While Hollywood was in a state of lethargy, a plethora of European films reached the United States and became a cultural oasis as they electrified cinephiles with their authenticity, philosophical underpinnings and psychological depth, despite their often labyrinthine narrative style.
Enthused by the idea of the apotheosis of the director (i.e. the director as auteur) articulated by French theorists, and having emerged from a process of osmosis, whereby European aesthetics had become part of their own artistic visioon, young American directors and older ones who revolted against the system, set oute to make idiosyncratic and often esoteric and eccentric films in the spirit of A Bout de Souffle and La Dolce Vita.
This was to the horror of conservative and "cinephobic" groups (to use Pauline Kael's term), who had harshly critised several European films in polemic reviews, referring to them as "pictorial cacophonies", "cynical and misanthropic", "heretic" and even "blasphemous"!
Following the examples of their European mentors, New Hollywood directors, including Francis Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, Bob Rafelson, and Robert Altman viewed with skepticism the orthodoxy of traditional cinematic practices, codes and policies, and fought for their artistic autonomy, which in previous decades had seemed a chimera. For them, Old Hollywood was not necessarily an anathema, but rather a sphere to be revisited and reconstructed with zeal and dynamism.
In early 1960s, New Hollywood had been in an embryonic state, with John Cassavetes and his influential Shadows. However, by 1967, a climate of euphoria and enthusiasm had overwhelmed Hollywood.
In 1967, Bonnie and Clyde epitomised the new aesthetic and ideological direction of Hollywood, which was exceptionally close to that of post-war European cinema. Arthur Penn's film was a hybrid, an amalgam of European aesthetics and American generic codes. Based on the gangster genre, it nonetheless echoed the episodic structure of A Bout de Souffle, the poetic lyricism of Jules et Jim, and the tragicomic atmosphere of Le 400 Coups.
Two years later, Easy Rider became the emblem of the sixties counter-culture and testified the influence of European cinema through its emphasis on character over story, and the use of innovative techniques to convey a sense of dystopia. It was a modern odyssey, an allegory for the counter-culture's quest for meaning amidst what they considered "a social and political chaos". Its commercial and critical success was scandalous, considering that four years earlier escapist and conservative films like The Sound of Music dominated the American box-office and were promoted as an antidote to socio-political pathology.
New Hollywood films placed the emphasis on the individual - more often than not on the anti-hero who struggled against internal and external demons, often triggering a cycle of hubris and nemesis, which nonetheless did not guarantee any sense of catharsis.
Films like Taxi Driver, Easy Rider, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, and Bonnie and Clyde were all variations of the same thematic pattern. A generous dose of realism in these films engaged the viewer and enhanced empathy with the protagonist's drama.
The "New Hollywood" movement was ephemeral but its legacy colossal and still present.