Film Paper - Left+Right cycles - Steven Rizzo Gerst 355...

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Steven Rizzo Gerst 355 Professor Waite March 24, 2008 Left and Right Cycles as Related to “ Taxi Driver” and “The Battle of Algiers” In Robert B. Ray's A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema, 1930-1980 , the author describes the idea of left and right cycles in the American film industry. Arising during the 1960's and lasting through the 1970's, these two film styles contrasted with the old Hollywood model of films, like “Casablanca” and “The Maltese Falcon”. The form of traditional Hollywood films could be considered invisible noted Ray, without the reconciling intervention of the director (eye-level camera angles, good lighting, cutting at sensible points in action and dialog, etc). The story is foremost, with style serving the narrative and the plot is quite linear, one action causing the next. The audience is able to strongly identify with the protagonists of classic Hollywood films as there actions are logical and normal. While there were some aberrations to this general model, it is fair to say this style of film was prominent through the 1950's. As television became more prominent in the average person's life, however, Americans became more familiar with the old movies that were constantly being shown. This helped to increase the audience's recognition of the models' artificiality. This fact, along with the downfall of the vertically integrated studio system, the rise of the counter-culture and social changes in the 1960's, showed that the old Hollywood film paradigm had become outdated and thus irrelevant to the time period. According to Ray, the film going audience could be broken down into two groups, naive and ironic. The naive audience was still satisfied by the classical Hollywood model when the story was told well; the ironic audience, however, wanted a more realistic and sophisticated film. Prior to the 1960's, the large majority of people were part of the first group. Yet judging by the rise in foreign films and cult films, it was clear that the ironic audience had grown substantially. From this, the left and right cycles were born. Ray notes that the left cycle emerged first. “Bonnie and Clyde” and “The
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Graduate”, both from 1967, were considered the inaugural films of the left (pg. 298). These first two movies opened the door for later movies targeted to appeal to the counter-culture. Yet it was not long after their release that it became obvious there was also a strong market for right-wing films as seen with “Bullitt” and “Coogan's Bluff”, both released in 1968. These two cycles represented Hollywood's attempts at change of the classical form during this period. The Left films focused on outlaw heroes who would appeal to the emerging counter-culture (some protagonists, like in “Easy Rider”, were members of this culture), and followed their adventurous conflicts outside of the law. The Right films identified with the opposite, showing authoritative individuals in conflict with anti-social enemies (Such as in “The French Connection” and
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This note was uploaded on 04/11/2008 for the course FILM 2650 taught by Professor Bogel,l during the Spring '08 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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Film Paper - Left+Right cycles - Steven Rizzo Gerst 355...

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