The New Hollywood is a film era, which began in the late 1960s and lastet over a decade. How important this time was for the development of cinematic art is often undervalued. In fact this era has an influence on the approach to a film as far as today, many modern films use innovations and ideas of that time. Astonishingly time here seems to be standing in front of a stop sign.
But first the historical aspect: The Golden Age, which began in the 20s reigned the cinematic before the time of New Hollywood. The films that were created at that time showed a dream world, far away from reality, with the purpose to let the audience forget all the evil, bad and uncomfortable in the world for a while. The concept was fitted for them. The audience-member was meant to feel good. At some point this wasn’t possible anymore. Hollywood reached a dead point. More and more films failed to please because nobody could and wanted to see them anymore. Studios and production companys were ruined by colossal debt, as films were made, which were expensive and elaborate, but at the same time so superficial, that nobody was interested in them anymore.
A vacuum emerged and made room for newly studied directors, authors, actors etc., who wanted to revive the market with groundbreaking ideas (mainly inspired by european cinema) and succeeded. Some of them became legendary like Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now), Martin Scorsese (Shutter Island, Taxi Driver), Arthur Penn (Bonni and Clyde), Stanley Kubrick (2001: A Apace Odyssey, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb), Roman Polanski (Chinatown, Macbeth, The Pianist), etc… Sadly the last also hit the headlines for other reasons.
The wind of change, which could now be seen in films, was well received by the audience. The big difference was the films intention, the themes, which were addressed. The times of the dream factory were over. Now sociocritical and philosophical components were processed in films. The reason for this were the current events like civil rights and student campains or the war in Vietnam. Films didn’t give answers anymore. They asked questions, encouraged thought, but also critisized the system, society, people.
Even thought this way of creating film still exists today, but I think it’s fading more and more. The Golden Age lived on infatuation, then through feel-good storys which stars like Marilyn Monroe experienced. This infatuation is being restored on a new level. Today, it is possible to cover up lack of intellect and artistic quality with technical effort (for example CGI-effects or 3D). These “technical achievements” aren’t even used in places where a film enthusiast coul appreciate them. No, image composition, the cut of images and sound etc. seem newly designed every season but still appear familiar, boring. Why look for the philosophic question in Kiss and Kill or the sociological criticism in The Bounty Hunter. It doesn’t exist. But we are flooded by these films. At this point I would like to know why a German television channel doesn’t get tired of playing Are we there, yet?...
What I’m trying to say is that my current wish is a “New New Hollywood”. The dream factory 2.0 would have to take over Hollywood in order for this to happen, but nobody would regret that loss. If it failed again, then for the same reason.