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The Foreign Film Renaissance on American Screens, 1946-1973 (Wisconsin Film Studies)by Tino Balio
Synopses & Reviews
Largely shut out of American theaters since the 1920s, foreign films such as Open City, Bicycle Thief, Rashomon, The Seventh Seal, Breathless, La Dolce Vita and L’Avventura played after World War II in a growing number of art houses around the country and created a small but influential art film market devoted to the acquisition, distribution, and exhibition of foreign-language and English-language films produced abroad. Nurtured by successive waves of imports from Italy, Great Britain, France, Sweden, Japan, and the Soviet Bloc, the renaissance was kick-started by independent distributors working out of New York; by the 1960s, however, the market had been subsumed by Hollywood.
From Roberto Rossellini’s Open City in 1946 to Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris in 1973, Tino Balio tracks the critical reception in the press of such filmmakers as François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Tony Richardson, Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Luis Buñuel, Satyajit Ray, and Milos Forman. Their releases paled in comparison to Hollywood fare at the box office, but their impact on American film culture was enormous. The reception accorded to art house cinema attacked motion picture censorship, promoted the director as auteur, and celebrated film as an international art. Championing the cause was the new “cinephile” generation, which was mostly made up of college students under thirty.
The fashion for foreign films depended in part on their frankness about sex. When Hollywood abolished the Production Code in the late 1960s, American-made films began to treat adult themes with maturity and candor. In this new environment, foreign films lost their cachet and the art film market went into decline.
"Even those who don't know Italian Neorealism from French New Wave will appreciate Balio's wonderfully thorough survey of foreign films on American screens. Balio takes readers through nearly 30 years of international film history, from the end of WWII to the '70s, arguing that foreign films were then at the peak of their popularity in the United States in large part because of what they offered: sexy, uncensored alternatives to Hollywood fare (restricted under the Hayes Code, which sanitized domestic product). A decade-long Hollywood recession starting in 1947, leading to studio cutbacks, the production of fewer films, and the need for theaters to seek new content contributed to the renaissance, and a new generation of young filmgoers, especially university students, eager for challenging experiences, were ready to take the seats no longer being filled by their parents. Balio also examines the marketing dynamics of certain films (Laurence Olivier's Hamlet, for example, was billed as 'the greatest ghost story of them all') and allows critics of the era to discuss Fellini, Godard, Bergman, Truffaut, Kurosawa, Antonioni, Ray, and other directors at the heart of the movement. At times the proceedings cry out for a contemporary context, but film buffs and historians will find much here to enjoy.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved." Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
The turbulent years of the 1930s were of profound importance in the life of Spanish film director Luis Buandntilde;uel (1900andndash;1983). He joined the Surrealist movement in 1929 but by 1932 had renounced it and embraced Communism. During the Spanish Civil War (1936andndash;39), he played an integral role in disseminating film propaganda in Paris for the Spanish Republican cause.
and#160;and#160;and#160; Luis Buandntilde;uel: The Red Years, 1929andndash;1939 investigates Buandntilde;uelandrsquo;s commitment to making the politicized documentary Land without Bread (1933) and his key role as an executive producer at Filmandoacute;fono in Madrid, where he was responsible in 1935andndash;36 for making four commercial features that prefigure his work in Mexico after 1946. As for the republics of France and Spain between which Buandntilde;uel shuttled during the 1930s, these became equally embattled as left and right totalitarianisms fought to wrest political power away from a debilitated capitalism.
and#160;and#160;and#160; Where it exists, the literature on this crucial decade of the film directorandrsquo;s life is scant and relies on Buandntilde;uelandrsquo;s own self-interested accounts of that complex period. Romandaacute;n Gubern and Paul Hammond have undertaken extensive archival research in Europe and the United States and evaluated Buandntilde;uelandrsquo;s accounts and those of historians and film writers to achieve a portrait of Buandntilde;uelandrsquo;s andldquo;Red Yearsandrdquo; that abounds in new information.
Americans have been almost constantly at war since 1917. In addition to two world wars, the United States has fought proxy wars, propaganda wars, and a “war on terror,” among others. But even with the constant presence of war in American life, much of what Americans remember about those conflicts comes from Hollywood depictions.
In War on the Silver Screen Glen Jeansonne and David Luhrssen vividly demonstrate how war movies have burned the images and impressions of those wars onto the American psyche more concretely than has the reality of the wars themselves. That is, our feelings about wars are generated less by what we learn through study and discourse than by powerful cinematic images and dialogue. Films are compressed, intense, and immediate and often a collective experience rather than a solitary one. Actors and drama provide the visceral impact necessary to form perceptions of history that are much more enduring than those generated by other media or experiences.
War on the Silver Screen draws on more than a century of films and history, including classics such as All Quiet on the Western Front, Apocalypse Now, and The Hurt Locker, to examine the legacy of American cinema on twentieth- and twenty-first-century attitudes about war.
Smoke Signals is a historical milestone in Native American filmmaking. Released in 1998 and based on a short-story collection by Sherman Alexie, it was the first wide-release feature film written, directed, coproduced, and acted by Native Americans. The most popular Native American film of all time, Smoke Signals is also an innovative work of cinematic storytelling that demands sustained critical attention in its own right.
Embedded in Smoke Signalsand#8217;s universal story of familial loss and renewal are uniquely Indigenous perspectives about political sovereignty, Hollywoodand#8217;s long history of misrepresentation, and the rise of Indigenous cinema across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Joanna Hearneand#8217;s work foregrounds the voices of the filmmakers and performersand#8212;in interviews with Alexie and director Chris Eyre, among othersand#8212;to explore the filmand#8217;s audiovisual and narrative strategies for speaking to multiple audiences. In particular, Hearne examines the filmmakersand#8217; appropriation of mainstream American popular culture forms to tell a Native story. Focusing in turn on the production and reception of the film and issues of performance, authenticity, social justice, and environmental history within the filmand#8217;s text and context, this in-depth introduction and analysis expands our understanding and deepens our enjoyment of a Native cinema landmark.
About the Author
Tino Balio is professor emeritus of film in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and former director of the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research. He is author of United Artists, Volume 1, 1919–1950 and Volume 2, 1951–1978 as well as Grand Design: Hollywood as Modern Business Enterprise, 1930–1939. He is editor of The American Film Industry and Hollywood in the Age of Television.
Table of Contents
Part One: Emergence
2 Italian Neorealism
3 British Film Renaissance
Part Two: Import Trends
4 Market Dynamics
5 French Films of the 1950s
6 Japanese Films of the 1950s
7 Ingmar Bergman: The Brand
8 French New WAve
9 Angry Young Men: British New Cinema
10 Second Italian Renaissance
11 Auteurs From Outside the Epicenter
Part Three: Changing Dynamics
12 Enter Hollywood
The Aura of the New York Film Festival
What Our Readers Are Saying
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