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Directors Response to Post World War II Shift in American Society, Politics and Economy

2483 words (10 pages) Essay in Film Studies

08/02/20 Film Studies Reference this

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Introduction

Post World War II (WWII) is the period defined by the recession in the European colonial empire and the simultaneous rise in the two superpowers which included the United States of America (USA) and the Soviet Union (USSR). One of the greatest changes of post World War II was the global shifts in the nations of Authority. The changes affected the social, cultural, economic and the political aspects on most nations. The American film and cinema industry are among the most affected sectors by the post World War II leading to emergence of new genres and themes to be focused (Smoodin, 1997).

According to the report by May (2012) the economy during the post WWII period was undergoing a transition from the production of goods to the provision of services hence an advantage to the film and industry. The knowledge become of more value form of capital during the post WWII  hence an advantage to the film and cinema industry since the knowledge was being propagated through acting and watching films, cinemas and plays. The behavioural, the information sciences and the technologies rapidly developed and implemented in America and other parts of the world. The massive changes development and implementation of the information technologies lead to up rise in new systems such as behavioural economics, information theory, cybernetics, information architecture and game theory hence a major boost in the film and cinema sector in terms of theme and genre generations. 

The general impacts of the post World War II witnessed across the world in all sectors hence the emergence of new ways of performing activities. In terms of Creative Art, the Hollywood was the most affected industry hence the need for the directors and other actors to adjust in order to meet the new demands in the market. According Herzberg (2011) the early days of 1946, the Hollywood was towered over the international movie industry and was considered to be the best than any other movie industry that existed during that period of time. The reports indicate the box office figures for Hollywood Industry was the highest in its history as the films and cinemas became the national obsession and an insatiable passion for the world audiences. As such the film and cinema directors had to adjust appropriately to ensure that the target audience were able to get not only quality images but also quality content that can educate the society in terms of economics, politics and social life (Biskind, 1983).

The purpose of this report is to illustrate how the Hollywood film and cinema directors responded to the shifts in American society, politics and economy during the post World War II. It is believed that the World War II provoked the creativity and thinking among the actors leading to new themes and genres in film industries hence the need for the directors to change their management skills and film directing skills to utilize the new opportunities and challenges that were presented by the post World War II. The report will make reference on three Hollywood films which will include Kiss e Deadly (1955, Aldrich), Invasion of the Body Snatcher (1956, Siegel) and Panic in the Streets (1961, Kazan).

The scope of the report will entail determining key challenges and opportunities in film and cinema industry that emerged after the World War II in America. The report will focus on the socio-cultural, political and economic aspects with reference to American film and cinema industry, Hollywood. The report will be finalized by the critique of the Hollywood film and cinema industry in the post World War II.

Classical Hollywood

According to the history, Hollywood film Industry have faced a lot of crises which were majorly encountered during the post World War II with slight damages being sustained. According to the report by Biskind (1983) the major blow to classical Hollywood Industry came in 1950s when the sector was hit by a brink of bankruptcy. The Industry faced these challenges at the time when the American Cinema has more critical attention in exploration of the world audience and champion for the American interest across the world. This lead prompted a radical innovation and sophistication of the Hollywood Company hence an emergence of a “New Hollywood” as a renaissance of the Classical Hollywood. The “New Hollywood” was characterized by the new breed of talents that were able to offer film and play content that were contemporary to the post World War II, independent filmmakers who had advanced training in either film or Television College (Smoodin, 1997).

It is during the post World War II period that the language as part of film and cinema production took shape in the Hollywood history in order to target the whole world. The renaissance of the Hollywood during the 1970s saw new vocabularies being introduced in acting and ease of language assimilation by the media to serve the youthful audience that was also the main target at this time. The Hollywood Company received a new look that reflected the turbulent socio-cultural climate, the political climate and the economical climate in America (Sklar, 2012).

 According to Langford (2010) the energy of the American nation that was gestating within the frenetic activities during the World War II was cathartically directed into the arts particularly film and cinema industry hence the rise of “New Hollywood.” However, reports by Bennett (2012) seems to suggests that the Hollywood film industry has not undergone much transformation from the World War II to the post World War II period. This is due to the fact that individuals were initially not interested in film products due to the wars and depression that took the world by its roots hence inability to determine any developments that took place in American film and cinema industry. 

Key Opportunities and Challenges that Faced Hollywood in the Post World War II

 Social Opportunities and Challenges

The post World War II leads to emergence of social values which were leant during the war. The eminent social values during the World War II lead to development of new film themes such as moral philosophy, business ethics, sociology and theology, political science, behavioural economics and social psychology among other aspects. It was upon the directors to determine various ways through which these socially valuable themes could be incorporated in the films and cinemas to educate the audience. The director responded to this shift by ensuring that new talents are recruited to enhance the film production that would meet the needs of the contemporary world as depicted in the film Kiss me Deadly by Aldrich., Stewart, Meeker, Hernandez, & Dekker (1955) and Panic in the Street by Kazan, Widmark, Douglas, Geddes, & Palance (1950) that illustrates the impacts of moral philosophy in the American society.

The Hollywood films that emerged after the World War II emphasized much on norms of the culture, the value of patriotism, good governance, the need for democracy and justice. These new themes revolutionized the American society as the individuals started to see the need to be morally upright as depicted in the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Siegel, Wynter, Gates, Donovan, & McCarthy (1956). The directors were the major influencers of the themes to be portrayed in the Hollywood films at these time hence there was much pressure to ensure that the Company remains steadfast in offering quality content to the audience.

 Politics Opportunities and Challenges

The Hollywood works initially avoided political content in their films and cinema works and focused much on social, cultural and economic aspects with the purpose of entertaining and educating the audience. However, during the post World War II, it was realized that politics and governance controlled so many aspects of life hence the need to incorporate the political themes in the films and cinemas to educate the audience (May, 2012). The directors resorted to determine various ways through which the politics would affect the lives of the common citizens and produce the films with political themes. The post World War II also shaped the mind of the directors to develop a whole package of actors to handle the political issues that would be envisioned in the films. The movies portrayed themes such as good and bad governance, collaboration at national levels, patriotisms, campaigns and the impacts of political practices on economy and social life (Bennett, 2012).

 The directors sorted to come up with technologies that would tactically focus on the national and international politics and report on the trending issues that would be illuminated in films and cinemas. The political films produced by Hollywood have successfully transformed the cultural and social construct of the American Identity as presented in the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Siegel, Wynter, Gates, Donovan, & McCarthy (1956) and the Panic in the Streets by Kazan, Widmark, Douglas, Geddes, & Palance (1950).  The directors used the Hollywood films as a tool for labouring the American leaders and the citizens to preach peace and unionism. The directors also used to films and the other art works to popularize the industry among the middle and upper class citizens. This lead to conceptions of the Americanism across the world as the screen remained to be only powerful tool that could be used to bring the national unity. The Hollywood political films have also been used to portray America as the most powerful nation in the world during the post World War II (Sklar, 2012).

 Economy Opportunities and Challenges

The global economy was not well developed after the World War II since butter trade was still the mode of transaction in most parts of the world. However, in America and European countries the use of monetary currency had already been established as the major form of transaction (Biskind, 1983). The European countries, Soviet Union and America had economic crises immediately after World War II as result of prolonged period of wars that protracted numerous economic activities hence destroying the economies of most nations. This can be proved by the fact that Hollywood Company had been declared bankruptcy after World War II hence there was need to come up with emergency strategies to revive the film industry in United States to save the company from dwindling (Smoodin, 1997).

The film directors were swift to take the economic crises that hit the world as an opportunity to market the Hollywood films and art work to Americans and other parts of the world. The film directors developed themes and film story lines that would educate the economically depressed citizens on how to cut their expenditure to overcome the tough times that was hanging above the people across the globe. The film Kiss me Deadly by Aldrich, Stewart, Meeker, Hernandez, & Dekker (1955) and Panic in the Streets by Kazan, Widmark, Douglas, Geddes, & Palance (1950) have successfully demonstrated the themes that focuses on the economic crises and its impacts the Americans later after the end of the World War II. The directors also reacted to the shifts in economics aspects in America by deploying caravan form of marketing and popularizing the film products and services in America and across the world. The Hollywood Company organized for film and cinema watching in major States towns hence propagating the knowledge and entertainment to the civilians (Sklar, 2012). 

 Conclusion

Hollywood’s formal and thematic paradigm received formidable stability at the end of World War II as a result of interaction of the film industry and the audience and the objective situation in the America. The Americans majorly relied on the movies to learn the history and more so the events that inspired during the World War II hence the Hollywood had all the reasons to have control of its operations to ensure that all aspects are captured appropriately in the post World War II art works. However, the film industry lacked the best code of conducts and regulatory policies to ensure that the content shown to the public was inappropriate. Lack of appropriate regulations could have contributed to the introduction of “dirty images” to the Hollywood films that corrupted the thinking of most youths after the World War II.

References

  • Aldrich., R., Stewart, P., Meeker, R., Hernandez, J. A., & Dekker, A. (1955). Kiss me Deadly [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiOvtzU-ZDeAhUJJBoKHc50CvoQwqsBMAB6BAgBEAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DHES8eEUaBL0&usg=AOvVaw37u0h7a3yYvw1GfQJIEWtU
  • Biskind, P. (1983).  Seeing is believing: How Hollywood taught us to stop worrying and love the fifties, London: Pluto Press
  • Bennett, M. T. (2012). One World, Big Screen. American Film Journals, 13(8), 237-281. doi:10.5149/9780807837467_bennett
  • Herzberg, B. (2011). The Left side of the screen: Communist and left wing ideology in Hollywood 1929-2009
  • Langford, B. (2010). Post-Classical Hollywood: Film Industry, style and ideology since 1945.
  • Kazan, E., Widmark, R., Douglas, P., Geddes, B. B., & Palance, J. A. (1950). Panic in the Streets [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwivusbe-5DeAhVGxxoKHXaSDK0QwqsBMAN6BAgBEAc&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D6GQYK0mbNjE&usg=AOvVaw2phGij70v9DNvfriOSLh2C
  • May, L. (2012). Rethinking the Red Scare in Post-World War II Hollywood. Diplomatic History, 36(1), 217-219. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7709.2011.01017.x
  • Siegel, D., Wynter, D., Gates, L., Donovan, K., & McCarthy, K. (1956). Invasion of the Body snatchers [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwi0kpDY-pDeAhX_gM4BHRBuBdMQwqsBMAN6BAgAEAo&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D1VVxnbJl3LM&usg=AOvVaw1fczTlAijmPxm9LgijmrtY
  • Sklar, R. (2012). Hollywood about Hollywood: Genre as Historiography. Hollywood and the American Historical Film, 17(5), 71-93. doi:10.1007/978-0-230-35789-1_5
  • Smoodin, E. (1997). Hollywood in Crisis: Cinema and American Society 1929-1939 Colin Shindler. Film Quarterly, 51(2), 66-67. doi:10.2307/3697150
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