Essay: Hollywood Truly Global?

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¶ … Hollywood Truly Global?

Hollywood represents a specific image and ideal. Its role in the formation of major movie success has allowed it to become a dominating force within international cinema. However, exactly how much influence is exerted enough to drown out local storytelling techniques? Take the example of Bollywood. It emulates Hollywood narratives; yet proves to add in traditional and local elements as a way to express national culture through a foreign medium. No cinema can be completely devoid of Hollywood's influence; but Hollywood can serve as a platform to facilitate more native forms of national identity through film.

Hollywood style represents so many elemental and technical aspect of film making associated with American cinema. It is heavily influenced with theatrical and literature techniques seen in both Romantic and Victorian Western eras, "Certainly the Hollywood style seeks effects that owe a good deal to say, romantic music or nineteenth century melodrama," (Bordwell et al. 1998 p 4). Thus, there are strong Romantic and Victorian elements of the story-telling aspects of traditional Hollywood style. Traditional narratives and plot lines resemble common literary practices and have a solid cohesion rather than disrupted series of events or time durations; Hollywood style is "A system of narrative logic, which depends upon story events and casual relations and parallelisms among them," (Bordwell et al. 1998 p 6). The actual technology of cinema also helps define what it is to be considered American cinema. Traditional Hollywood style tends to use various elements such as "three point lighting, continuity editing, 'movie music,' centered framings, dissolves, etc.," (Bordwell et al. 1998 p 6). American cinema stemming out of Hollywood also has elements of cinematic time and space that show typical patterns of representing the style. These concepts don't act independently, but rather as serve as part of the functions of the story telling, rather than a story themselves; "In Hollywood style, the systems do not play equal roles: space and time are almost invariably made vehicles or narrative causality," (Bordwell et al. 1998 p 6). Understanding the elements of the Hollywood style is an important necessity when comparing it to foreign cinema, such as Bollywood films.

The tradition Hollywood style is also represented by the technical features as well as style. Typical American cinema uses the 16mm camera which lends a unique influence to the final visual image. The Hollywood style also relies on continuity editing, focuses on maintaining the 180-degree axis of action, which dictates that the camera should stay on one side of the action to ensure consistent special relations between objects to the right and left of the frame," (Ganti 2004 p 142). Filmmaking and cinematography within the style also tends to share similar camera methodologies as well. The Hollywood style uses a blended style of mixed short and long scene arrangements, with "lengthy camera movements alternate with fixed and shorter shots," (Bordwell et al. p 380). Such technical elements then have strong influences on the final visual representation of the message. It is a standard concept in Hollywood style to "Script your film in advance, make sure the camera is level, balance your compositions, use backlighting and lots of close ups," (Bordwell et al. p 379).

The image and impact of American cinema also depends greatly on the foundation that created it -- a studio system built on larger productions. After studios took control of most productions in Hollywood, movies became massive investments centralized under one specific leadership. Movies were then molded by the studio system based on the need for proper management and funding. This practice cam early on, "During the 1910s, companies also began to integrate the mass production of movies in purpose-built studios in Los Angeles with system of mass distribution, the first stage in the evolution of vertical integration within the industry," (Maltby 2003 p 111). Since its inception within the industry, the studio system was incredibly successful. It helped generate large profits and produced quality films that audiences demanded; "From the 1920s to the 1950s, the studio system was a way of organizing production to suit these economic preconditions, and the stability of that system generated the familiar style, the immediately recognizable patterns of camera movement, editing, narrative, and genre, that identify a Hollywood movie," (Maltby 2003 p 118). Not only did the process solidify the image of the Hollywood style within a mass producible form, it also created the situation for repetition in other external markets.

Since very early on, Hollywood films have dominated the international cinematic arena. According to many, "Hollywood was an international industry, not just an American one," (Maltby 2003 p 126). After seeing initially large profits and success, Hollywood studios looked for fresh new markets. Hollywood films were being demanded all over the world, and the style "achieved its domination of the world's movie screens during World War I, and consolidated its hold during the 1920s with the aggressive marketing of a product that seemed to have universal appeal," (Maltby 2003 p 126). American movies represented specific norms and values that people all over the world began adopting. With a seemingly standardized hub creating the image and representation of typical values and interactions. There was an early Americanization of global cinema; "American movies and their stars were a significant part of millions of non-American people's daily experience and personal identity," (Maltby 2003 p 127). Part of this phenomenon was not only initial popularity, but also a carefully calculated business strategy. Hollywood studios soon realized that the sales strategy of selling and distributing American movies super cheap to international markets "was part of a deliberate American policy of weakening the international competition," (Maltby 2003 p 127). Studios found great success in foreign markets. Millions of dollars were being generated annually, and so Hollywood continued the aggressive strategy. Eventually, "By the early 1960s foreign sales generated about half of the majors' revenues, and, with minor fluctuations, the division between domestic and foreign income has remained roughly equal ever since," (Maltby 2003 p 127). Thus, movies became mass produced and spread all over new lengths.

Researchers posit the idea that international cinemas react in generally two ways to traditional Hollywood style: they either imitate or differentiate. Several known international cinema efforts completely imitate the Hollywood style. Clearly,

Influence of Hollywood "It is evident that the 'ordinary film' of France, Germany, and even Japan and Russia constructed causality, time, and space in ways characteristic of the normal Hollywood film," (Bordwell et al. 1998 p 379). Thus, the compilation of international cinemas shows patterns relating to Hollywood narrative and technical styles. Based on "The accessibility of Hollywood cinema to audiences of different cultures made it a transitional standard," (Bordwell et al. 1998 p 379). Yet, this is only one reaction to the Hollywood style. The other proves to be a choice of differentiation. In many nations, there is a reaction against traditional style, there is a "the need within various countries to distinguish domestic films from the American product," (Bordwell et al. p 379). This means use of new and anti-Hollywood techniques. However, overall this form of cinema did not become largely popular on such a large scale, such as the one seen in the classical Hollywood image.

The recognized Bollywood cinema style represents the unique relationship Hollywood has with other international cinema styles. As one of the most popular Indian styles of filmmaking, Bollywood proves to take some elements form Hollywood style, while also embodying its own unique flare and style. According to research, "Cinema in India has a history that is relatively coterminous with film making in the West," (Ganti 2004 p 5). Bollywood is in many ways heavily influenced by the British occupancy -- which ruled over India for generations. It appealed to the British influence of society, as well as providing Hollywood another cinema to influence. The British occupancy brought in Western styles and standards. These stemmed from romantic and Victorian traditions, which came from similar Hollywood's stories and plot lines. In fact. Some films are replicas of popular Hollywood tales. Some films are adapted directly from actual American cinema "Hollywood films, however are not selected on the basis of box-office outcome, but chosen for plots which seem novel and amendable to adaptation," (Ganti 2004 p 77). Thus, Hollywood shows its strong influence over international cinemas.

India also proved to adopt a similar distribution structure seen in the Hollywood system. India proved to have the economic resources to compete with American cinema and keep up with American technological advances. Research shows that" the economic base of Bombay allowed for film technology to take root and flourish as capitol from other industrial and commercial activity flowed into filmmaking," (Ganti 2004 p 7). This occurred even early on and emulated the studio system; "The increased profitability of the cinema enabled filmmakers to reinvest their gains in new productions and additional infrastructure such as studios, laboratories, theaters," (Ganti 2004 p 11). Thus, India emulated both plots and technical elements of style.

Yet, Bollywood also portrays its… [END OF PREVIEW]

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