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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
As much as I loved this film-buff docu-delight, it's hard for me to give it a grade...
...and my reasons for which are simple- there are so many great films presented and discussed here (most of them by their own directors and stars), so many clips of infamous moments in 70's movie history, and in fact a number of films I have yet to see, that it wouldn't be fair to grade this work. By this logic I shouldn't have given grades to other movie documentaries like Martin Scorsese's Personal Journey through American Movies and My Voyage to Italy. But while those films were on the basis of one man's view of cinema, narrating through most of the way, Richard LaGravanese and (the late) Ted Demmes' A Decade Under the Influence lets the films and the creators speak entirely for themselves.
What makes 'Decade' worth at least one watch for film buffs, or just anyone who likes the films of the late 60's-70's in America, are the levels that it goes to, that in the uncut version (three hours, not the theatrical version, which I have no comment on) plenty of ground is covered. Interviews include the likes of Scorsese, Robert Altman, Sidney Lumet, Julie Christie, Jon Voight, Francis Ford Coppola, Paul Schrader, Pam Grier, Bruce Dern, Peter Bogdanovich, Roger Corman, Dennis Hopper, Robert Towne, etc, and there's a constant flow of insight from start to finish. The way the clips and directors/actors pop up, edited together in a flashy and quick style, is also fascinating.
The one down comment I have on the documentary is that most of the information presented has been reported on in various books, like Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, and though I haven't seen the movie version of that book yet I'm sure it would have covered many of the films and directors and incidents as here (in fact, the book of that is one of the best I've ever read. HOWEVER, this documentary serves as something special for film buffs and occasional movie goers of the future- they can look at this and learn not only about such well known pictures as Easy Rider, The Last Picture Show, Annie Hall, Coming Home, and lessor knowns like Scarecrow, Panic in Needle Park, The Landlord, Joe, They Shoot Horses Don't They. They can also learn about who influenced them (new waves of Europe and Asia), who they served as influences for, and how the subject matter that created controversy after controversy still serves as intriguing and chancy material for the contemporary crowd. Seek this out!
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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