Cinema: Then and now
How experimentation has deserted hollywood
There’s a lot the past can reveal. In the arts world, looking at the past glories of a particular artform can be extremely revealing, showing us where we once excelled and what special things we may have lost.
In this post, we look back at the early years of cinema and compare it with today. It’s a creative industry where we’ve seen a seismic change over the past 100 years. Technological advancements have taken cinema into new worlds and have given filmmakers greater opportunity to create a fantasy on the big screen. However, this is a double-edged sword, as the technology has taken away some of the rawness and grit.
The early years of cinema were defined by experimentation. It was a new world that required filmmakers to really think outside the box. It was this that made Hollywood a dominant force, rewarding those pioneers who were prepared to be original. Directors and producers created films that used innovation to achieve celluloid magic.
That zeal for experimentation is lacking in Hollywood today.
During the years following Hollywood’s inception, the big production houses of Warner Brothers, Metro Goldwyn Mayer and the like gave directors carteblanche to explore creative ideas. The likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Victor Fleming and Charlie Chaplin, among others, had the freedom to create films that we still remember today.
The world of film in 2017 is not completely empty. There are still numerous directors producing cinematic gems that are experimental and unique. It’s just that the budgets and marketing for these films are much less than standard Hollywood fare. In the last decade there have only been a handful of films coming from Hollywood that have truly shot into the stratosphere, containing all the right experimental components - ‘The Pianist’ and ‘La La Land’ being two of them. The rest have come from independent filmmakers.
The new golden age of cinema is not coming from Hollywood, but from elsewhere. Of course, there are directors who are favoured by Hollywood, keeping experimentation at the forefront, such as Wes Anderson and Lars Von Trier, but they are few and far between.
The beauty of independent cinema is that it is built on the foundation of freedom, and it’s where a number of actors and directors have cut their teeth before heading into the Hollywood machine.
Anthony Kaufman summarizes the freedom aspect of independent cinema in Indie Wire: “Not only do independent films launch the careers of unknown talents, but also they offer seasoned veterans the chance to take risks, upend expectations and change the direction of their careers.”
There are particular directors who have made their greatest films with limited means and budgets at their disposal. The Persian director Abbas Kiarostami is one in particular, from ‘A Taste of Cherry’ to ‘Certified Copy’ he has consistently crafted films that embrace creativity, whether through dialogue and direction, all without help from the Hollywood goliath.