Cinematic tradition suggests that Hollywood films, like plays, are divided into acts. Thompson (1999) streamlined the conception of this largescale film structure by suggesting that most films are composed of four acts of generally equal length—the setup, the complicating action, the development, and the climax (often including an epilog). These acts are based on the structure of the narrative, and would not necessarily have a physical manifestation in shots and transitions. Nonetheless, exploring a sample of 150 Hollywood style films from 1935 to 2005, this article demonstrates that acts shape shot lengths and transitions. Dividing films into quarters, we found that shots are longer at quarter boundaries and generally shorter near the middle of each quarter. Moreover, aside from the beginnings and ends of films, the article shows that fades, dissolves, and other non-cut transitions are more common in the third and less common in the fourth quarters of films.
James E. Cutting, Kaitlin L. Brunick and Jordan E. Delong
Hollywood Defines the American Boy, 1930–1934
This essay examines the portrayals of boys in American film, especially Jackie Cooper, during the “pre-code” period of Hollywood sound films, roughly 1930-1934. With the Great Depression cutting movie attendance, studios explored social taboos to entice audiences. As a result, childhood concerns, including issues of adoption, strained parental (especially father-son) relationships, or failing before one’s peers, were themes that threatened boys’ identities.
The Illusion of Progress in Popular Film
Vicki L. Eaklor
The film The Kids Are All Right, centered on a lesbian couple and their two teenage children, was released in 2010 following a media blitz selling it as a groundbreaking film. Many queer viewers (like this author) eagerly awaited this supposed step forward in lesbian representation, only to be disappointed once again by mainstream stereotypes and tropes. This article takes a close look at the film against the backdrop of lesbian images and themes in “Hollywood“ films, particularly in the last twenty years, and argues that continuities, while sometimes more subtle, override the illusion of progress in portraying lesbians. Finally, there is speculation about why genuine change in mainstream film may be impossible under current societal and economic systems.
James E. Cutting, Catalina Iricinschi and Kaitlin L. Brunick
This article presents a new method to create maps that chart changes across a cinematic narrative. These are unlike narrative spaces previously discussed in the literature—they are abstract, holistic, dynamic representations based on objective criteria. The analysis considers three films (All About Eve, Inception, and MASH) by counting the co-occurrences of main characters within scenes, and 12 Angry Men by counting their co-occurrences within shots. The technique used combines the statistical methods of correlation, multidimensional scaling, and Procrustes analysis. It then plots the trajectories of characters across these spaces in All About Eve and Inception, regions for characters in Inception and MASH, and compares the physical arrangement of jurors with their dramatic roles in 12 Angry Men. These maps depict the changing structures in the visual narrative. Finally, through consideration of statistical learning, the article explores the plausibility that these maps mimic relations in the minds of film viewers.
James E. Cutting, Kaitlin L. Brunick and Jordan DeLong
This is an amendment to the article "How Act Structure Sculpts Shot Lengths and Shot Transitions in Hollywood Film" by the same authors published in Projections 5(1), summer 2011.
Tim Bergfelder, Erica Carter, and Deniz Göktürk, eds., The German Cinema Book (London: British Film Institute, 2002)
Lutz Koepnick, The Dark Mirror: German Cinema between Hitler and Hollywood (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002)
Adrian Martin, Mise en Scène and Film Style: From Classical Hollywood to New Media Art, Palgrave Close Readings in Film and Television (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), xviii + 235 pp., £60 (hardback).
John Gibbs, The Life of Mise-en-Scène: Visual Style and British Film Criticism, 1946–78 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), viii + 280 pp., £65 (hardback).
Lucy Fife Donaldson, Texture in Film, Palgrave Close Readings in Film and Television (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), ix + 194 pp., £55 (hardback).
Australian Women Encounter America, 1930s-1950s
During the mid-twentieth century, Hollywood cinema exerted a powerful influence upon Australian imaginings of the United States. In contrast to the flood of information moving between the Antipodes and Britain, America was relatively unknown, with little aside from film reels making the journey across the Pacific. This article examines how saturation in Hollywood imagery mediated the travel experience of Australian women who stepped through the silver screen and visited America itself. The writings of female transpacific travelers are peppered with references to Hollywood, which is cited as a source of crude preconceptions about America, and also appears as a point of comparison to the author’s own experience. Yet these texts almost never refer to specific films or actors, and instead use Hollywood as a shorthand to denote glamour, affluence, and urban living. The article suggests, therefore, that travelers’ discussions of “Hollywood” were often concerned less with American film than American modernity, and therefore also provide insight into Australian attitudes towards the modern.
Patrick Colm Hogan
It is commonplace to remark that India has the largest film industry anywhere, producing “unquestionably the most-seen movies in the world” (Kabir 2001: 1). Of the many languages in which Indian movies are made, films in Hindi (or Urdu) are the most prominent globally, and they comprise the most obviously “national” cinema (Ganti 2004: 12). Indian films in general, and Hindi films in particular, have had international success for decades (Desai 2004: 40). They constitute perhaps the only national cinema that can come close to rivaling the U.S. film industry. This parallel with Hollywood has led to the popular name for the Hindi film industry, “Bollywood.” The name refers particularly to the entertainment-oriented films from the 1960s on, and of these especially the films produced since the early 1990s in the period of economic neoliberalism and globalization.
For those of us accustomed to thinking of French cinema as a low-budget, philosophical alternative to Hollywood, the past few years might have been a bit disorienting. Established auteurs (Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer, Agnès Varda) and challenging newcomers (Gaspard Noé, Catherine Breillat, Erick Zonca) continue to impress, but their idiosyncratic views are now complemented by an increasing number of what look a lot like, well, French “blockbusters.” These are popular genre films that feature special effects and glossy production values.