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David J. Stieve
The 1970s was an extraordinary time of rebellion, of questioning every accepted idea: political activism, hedonism, protests, the sexual revolution, the women's movement, the civil rights movement, the music revolution, rage and liberation. Every standard by which we set our social and cultural clocks was either turned inside out or thrown away completely and reinvented. For American cinema, the 1970s was an era during which a new generation of filmmakers created work for a new kind of audience--moviegoers who were hungry for stories that reflected their own experiences and who were turning their backs on aged old studio formulas. As a result, emerging filmmakers influenced by foreign directors such as Godard, Kurosawa and Fellini coupled with the social climate and a struggling studio system, converged to create a new kind of moviemaking. Through their choice of material, filmmakers such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, William Friedkin, ... Written by
Sujit R. Varma
The 1970s opened the door to the largest, most diverse era of film in its history. Some films were great ("The Godfather", "The Conversation", "Mean Streets", Chinatown", "The French Connection", "Five Easy Pieces", "Jaws", "McCabe And Mrs. Miller") Others were not so great ("The Getaway", "The Outfit", "Badge 373", "Joe", "The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three", "Brewster McCloud", "Castle Keep") And others were barely worth the price of admission.
Yet every one was a fresh breath of air compared to today's Corporate Hollywood. Where every film is given a Big Weekend to recoup its cost. Or go straight to HBO and rental.
What "Decade" does so well is to relate the sudden and rarely experienced sensation of freedom to be given money to make and direct a film. Perhaps personal. Perhaps not. Sometime with a clutch of extras. Sometimes, in the middle of a busy street before the cops show up. Long before the Corporate Overseers, Suits, Committees and Lawyers ever became part of "The System".
The commentaries are superb. Especially Julie Christie and Dennis Hopper. Though as you listen, you'll slowly discover just how many Big Directors today (Coppola, Scorsese, Ron Howard, Dennis Hopper, Peter Bogdonovitch) got stated as "Roger Corman Commandos". Working long hours with short pay. Shooting a film in under a month. Learning all the steps and tricks of the trade by doing it themselves. Turning in product that was on-time and under-budget.
See "Decade" for its message. And for a long and varied list of films to watch made through those wondrously turbulent years.
Though, I would not complain if IFC decided to devote another documentary solely to that most under-rated Grand Pioneer of film, Roger Corman.
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