Despite the fact that Hollywood films are popular all over the world, many believe that foreign films are better. Critics dislike of Hollywood films is due to the straight-line plots of the films in which nothing is left unclear, unsettling or unexplained and every shot is justified by a link to strictest cause and effect. Hollywood films are often viewed as dulling the mind. In this country people generally view films for mere entertainment. Many recent films support this stereotype of American culture.
Special effects, violence, and actors names (despite level of talent) are often major themes that bring Americans to the movies. While most Hollywood films are made purely for entertainment value, many foreign films are entertaining as well as forcing the viewer think and question their surroundings at the same time. This is true of many foreign films I have seen. The first film that comes to mind is Godards Masculine-Feminine. One of the themes in this film is the constant questioning that goes on between the characters.
Through this interrogation, Godard is able to explore the different relationships between the main characters. The interrogation that happens in the bathroom between Paul and Madeline is a perfect example of this. They spend a good ten or fifteen minutes discussing how they feel about love and relationships. Another scene where interrogation plays a major role is the scene in which Paul is interviewing the model for the magazine. In this scene, the characters discuss multiple topics. They range from politics to love. This is something that is not often seen in Hollywood films.
In general, the American public is more interested in fast-pace scenes often containing sex and violence. The interviews in Godards movie are not the only thing that makes the viewer think. Much of the movie is based on political discontent and the future of the next generation, which Madeline at one point refers to as the Pepsi Generation.. The film questions peoples loyalty to each other through the various murders that appear to go unnoticed. In the very beginning of the film, we see a woman shoot her male companion at a table near Paul and he does not notice.
He looks up and then returns to his coffee and newspaper. The same thing happens on a subway car. Through this Godard seems to be holding up a mirror to society and blaming society in general for its own problems. This type of commentary is unacceptable to an American audience because we do not like to see the evil or negative about ourselves. When Americans go to the movies, they like to be entertained and want everything to end happily with as little physical or mental exertion on their part as possible. The opposite theme is evident in the movie The Official Story.
This film portrays actual events through a fictional story. The film is extremely shocking and causes the audience to contemplate the horror of the events. Unaware of where her child came from the mother has grown to love the child, but is horrified to find out what she has done and where her child has come from. The audience is tossed into the middle of an emotional struggle. This film is also unlike Hollywood films in that it is a current political film. Hollywood tends to avoid political films mainly for one of two reasons.
The first reason is that in todays capitalist society it is impossible for Hollywood to make a movie making any type of political statement. Hollywood directors get most of their money from advertisers. They do not want to offend these advertisers because then there would be no money. They also do not want to offend the general population who is paying to see the movie. If they do this then the movie will not make any money and the producers would go broke. The second reason Hollywood does not make political movies is the lack of interest from the general population.
As mentioned above, most Americans like movies that entertain whether it involves explosions or sex we are not interested in movies that make us think or require an opinion. We as a society do not feel we are paying to be lectured at by movies. The Bicycle Thief is the closest foreign film to a Hollywood film I have seen. This film is a lot like Hollywood films in that revenge (is a driving force behind the movie. The rest of the film he spends trying to track down the thief and his bicycle. Revenge was not what Vittorio de Sica meant to be the focus of the film.
In fact, he was making a comment about society much like that of Godards. He was noticing the extreme apathy that society had towards each other. Neither the police nor anyone else, excluding a few friends, gave the main character of the film, any sympathy once his bicycle was stolen. However, again this something that Americans do not want to hear about. One recent American film that was extremely popular was Titanic, which set box office records last year. The question to ask though, is why this movie was so popular. The movies plot was corny and flowery.
It was a typical romance story in which a poor boy falls in love with an unattainable engaged rich girl. Yet the rich girl does not love her fianc, she loves the poor boy. This story went on for three long and boring hours. So, what is it that brought the millions of people to the movie theatres Two of the major themes mentioned earlier fall into play. First, the special effects and the meticulous attention to historical detail attracted many of the adults and older teenage viewers. The special affects in the movie were incredible.
It was very difficult to tape the water rushing through the boat and the boat was actually sinking, so they could only film it once. The special effects were amazing but they did not make you think the way many foreign films do. Secondly, hordes of preteen and early adolescent girls flocked to the theatres to see Leonardo DiCaprio. While I am sure this happens in other countries as well, it seems to be increasingly prominent among Americans. A second series in which special effects were more prominent than the story line was the Star Wars trilogy. The whole film is based upon the battles in space and the effects associated with the battle.
For instance, the light rays, sword that look like flash lights and when held appropriately a ray of light becomes the blade of the sword, are a part of every actors costume. Hans Solo, a pilot of a battle ship, becomes a hero for saving Luke Skywalkers life at the end of one of the films. The special effects are so entrancing that the audience forgets to notice some of the more intellectual themes in the movie. For instance, many critics have commented that the film deals with issues such as the evil nature of Communism- Darth Vader and the Empire being the communist nation and the Rebellion being the Democratic nation.
In the triology themes like this support the special effects while in foreign films trhe special effects tend to support the story line. Eventually, Americans, as well as Hollywood, can begin to appreciate a more intellectual type of film such as the films popular in Europe and Asia. We need to learn to be willing to open our minds to new possibilities and new ideas. Once we are willing to think for ourselves occasionally, Hollywood can stand out as the film capitol it supposedly is.