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POSTWAR DECLINE EUROPEAN FILM IN THE POSTWAR WORLD

 

Italy

 

Federico FELLINI broke with the tradition to make films of a more poetic and personal nature such as I Vitelloni (1953) and La Strada (1954) and then shifted to a more sensational style in the 1960s with La Dolce Vita (1960) and the intellectual 8 1/2 (1963).

 

France

 

With the coming of NEW WAVE films in the late 1950s, the French cinema reasserted the artistic primacy it had enjoyed in the prewar period. Applying a personal style to radically different forms of film narrative, New Wave directors included Claude CHABROL (The Cousins, 1959), Francois TRUFFAUT (The 400 Blows, 1959; Jules and Jim, 1961), Alain RESNAIS (Hiroshima Mon Amour, 1959), and Jean-Luc GODARD, who, following the success of his offbeat Breathless (1960), became progressively more committed to a Marxist interpretation of society, as seen in Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1966), Weekend (1967) and La Chinoise (1967). While Truffaut became obsessively concerned with the value of cinema as art, education, and communication (The Wild Child, 1969: Day for Night, 1973; The Last Metro, 198O), Godard became obsessively concerned with the way cinema like all media of popular culture masks the covert operations of ideology in bourgeoisie society (Tout va bien, 1972; Sauve qui peut, 1980; First Name: Carmen. 1983). Eric ROHMER, mining a more traditional vein, produced sophisticated "moral tales" in My Night at Maud's (1968), Claire's Knee (1970), Chloe in the Afternoon (1972), and Summer (1986). Louis MALLE audaciously explored such charged subjects as incest and collaborationism in Murmur of the Heart (1971) and Lacombe Lucien (1974).

 

Sweden

 

From Sweden Ingmar BERGMAN emerged in the 1950s as the master of introspective, often death-obsessed studies of complex human relationships. Although capable of comedy, as in Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), Bergman was at his most impressive in more despairing, existentialist dramas such as The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), Persona (1966), and Cries and Whispers (1972), in all of these aided by a first-rate acting ensemble and brilliant cinematography. In later color films, such as The Magic Flute (1974) and Fanny and Alexander (1982), Bergman cast off his fatalistic obsessions to reaffirm the magic of theater and cinema.

 

Great Britain

 

The British cinema, struggling in the shadow of Hollywood's English-language domination, had been largely reduced to a spate of Alec GUINNESS comedies by the early 1950s. Over the next decade, however, English directors produced compelling cinematic translations of the "angry young man" novelists and playwrights, of Harold PINTER'S existentialist dramas, and of the traditional great British novels. Britain regained a healthy share of the market with films such as Jack Clayton's Room at the Top (1958); Tony Richardson's Look Back in Anger (1959), The Entertainer (1960), A Taste of Honey (1961), and Tom Jones (1963); Karel Reisz's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (I960) and Morgan (1966); Lindsay Anderson's This Sporting Life (1963); Joseph LOSEY's The Servant (1963) and Accident (1967); Ken RUSSELL's Women in Love (1969); and John Schlesinger's Sunday, Bloody Sunday (1971). The popularity of the James Bond spy series, which began in 1962, gave the industry an added boost.



 

Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union

 

The postwar cinemas of Eastern Europe walked a tight-rope between their rich artistic tradition and official Soviet policies of artistic suppression. The Polish cinema enjoyed two major periods of creative freedom in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and two decades later, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which saw the rise of the Solidarity worker's movement Roman POLANSKI began with psychological studies of obsessed or neurotic characters (Knife in the Water, 1962; Repulsion, 1965), only to leave Poland for both American genre films and European literary adaptations (Rosemary's Baby, 1968; Macbeth, 1971; Chinatown, 1974; Tess, 1979). Andrzej WAJDA remained in Poland to direct films in both periods of expressive freedom (Kanal, 1957; Ashes and Diamonds, 1958; Man of Marble, 1977; Man of Iron, 1981).

With sketches of Czech life, films from Czechoslovakia dominated the international festivals for much of the 1960s. The major directors either remained silent in Czechoslovakia after the 1968 Soviet invasion (Jiri Menzel, Closely Watched Trains, 1966) or emigrated to the West (Jan KADAR, The Shop on Main Street, 1965). Most successful of Czech emigres has been Milos FORMAN (Loves of a Blonde, 1965; The Firemen's Ball, 1967) who found a home in Hollywood with his off-beat sketches of oddballs and loners (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975; Amadeus, 1984; Valmont, 1989).

Soviet films have never since equaled the international reputation of the silent classics by Eisenstein and Pudovkin. During the era of repression that ended only in the late 1980s, the few films to make an impact beyond the Soviet sphere of influence were sentimental recollections of the struggle against the Nazis (The Cranes Are Flying, 1959; Ballad of a Soldier, 1960) or the Boris Pasternak translations of Shakespeare classics, directed by Grigory KOZINTSEV (Hamlet, 1963; King Lear, 1971). The most adventurous Soviet directors made films with difficulty (Andrei Tarkovsky: Andrei Rublev, 1966; Solaris, 1971); or once made, their work was locked up and forgotten. With the era of GLASNOST, however, many of these films began to surface. Audiences in the USSR and elsewhere can now see Aleksandr Askoldov's The Commissar (1967), or Tengiz Abuladze's epic satire of Stalin, Repentance, (made in 1982, released finally in 1986). Some of the new Soviet films bear unsettling resemblances to Hollywood films: the adolescent characters in Little Vera (1989) for example, behave exactly like their counterparts in the West.

 

Germany

 

The rise of a postwar generation of German filmmakers, nurtured almost exclusively on American films and actively supported by the German government, produced the most impressive national cinema of the 1970s rich in its output and diverse in its styles. Volker Schlondorf specialized in literary adaptations (Young Torless, 1966; the Tin Drum, 1981) while Wim Wenders made German echoes of the American genre films that shaped his own view of both film and the world (Kings of the Road, 1976; The American Friend, 1977; Paris, Texas, 1984; Wings of Desire; 1988). Werner HERZOG directed psychological studies of obsessed characters, which try to dominate their landscapes but are instead dominated by them (Aguirre, the Wrath of God, 1972; Kaspar Hauser, 1974; Fitzcarraldo, 1982).

 

Spain

 

A promising national cinema emerged in Spain where, until the late 1970s, the regime of Generalissimo Francisco Franco had restricted expression in all the arts. The most distinguished Spanish filmmaker, Luis BUNUEL, rarely worked in Spain but produced his films largely in Mexico and France. Bunuel broke new ground with ironic examinations of the internal contradictions of religious dogma (Nazarin, 1958; Viridiana, 1961; The Milky Way, 1969) and middle-class life (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgoisie, 1972; That Obscure Object of Desire, 1977). Succeeding generations of Spanish filmmakers have been greatly influenced by Bunuel.

 


Date: 2015-02-03; view: 998


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A GLIMPSE OF WORLD MOVIE HISTORY | NONWESTERN FILM PRODUCTION
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