Volume 92, Issue 26

Wednesday, October, 21 1998

bound and gagged


Save the cinema

Is art dead in Hollywood? After the last couple of weeks it is obvious that the battle has been lost. The film industry has always been financially driven, but at least they pretended that it was a factor.

Hollywood film has traditionally been an escapist "us versus them" medium for the masses to relieve the stresses of everyday life, whereas European and Canadian film has focused mainly on emotional struggles. This dichotomy is a product of audience preference and can be explained by differences in cultural ideology.

By focusing on the struggles between the Americans and others, Hollywood has had to create increasingly larger monsters for Americans to fear. This cycle has produced aliens, meteors, dinosaurs and all sorts of natural disasters which could not be defeated without the fighting spirit of Americans. There is nothing wrong with this ideology and may the one who has not caught an escapist Hollywood flick cast the first stone.

The problem lies in the vicious cycle which the industry has created. How can a drug dealer or a lost assassin compete with Godzilla or a small budget art flick compete with a mega budget? Well now it can – because Hollywood is out of ideas! Remaking the horror milestone Psycho was the first real sign that Hollywood is drawing a blank but the idea of rereleasing The Wizard of Oz is ridiculous. The producers aren't even trying anymore. They're basically saying – we give up, it's all about the Benjamins. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

One good thing that has resulted out of Hollywood's creative crisis is a resurgence in art cinema. The recent Toronto Film Festival showcased smaller budget films and many were picked up for distribution. A standard procedure – but one which will succeed the formulaic repetition that has diseased Hollywood. The industry is satisfied in attracting fans by building huge screens and entertaining with an audio/visual extravaganza. The bigger the better, or is it?

Hollywood is at the pinnacle of creative and financial expansion and like any business, will experience an economic adjustment. The omnipotence of the blockbuster which for years has damaged the financial vitality of independent films is showing dents in its armour. Only the odd few will survive as fickle fans turn to less expensive and more artistically inspired entertainment.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazette.editor@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998