Classical Hollywood

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Gavan Duffy TVF
Media analysis assignment
Classical Hollywood Cinema

In the following essay I have been asked to write a 2000 word essay discussing the main characteristic features of the classical Hollywood narrative film. This is a style of clarity where the viewer should not be confused about space, time, events or characters motivations and although a number of classical narrative traditions have been modified, or even rejected, this unfussy style of making movies it is still very much alive today and remains the dominant way of telling the story so it reaches a wider audience. During the course of my research I found appropriate information in many places. The Balyfermot college resource room, as well as the local library, had a wide selection of helpful and informative books which aided me in finding the relevant notes needed for the essay. The Ballymun public library was also helpful as it had a small but effective supply of the necessary books. The public library in my home town, Castleblayney, also proved to be beneficial in acquiring the necessary information on the classical Hollywood system. Because of my research I now have good understanding of this subject and its various topics. Film scholars have long divided narrative fiction films into three stylistic categories: classical, realist, and formalist. In the following essay I intend to discuss in detail the characteristic features of the classical Hollywood narrative style of film making. The narrative structure of this style and its known traits will be included as well the well known genres of the Western and film noir as examples of how it is utilized. The use of iconography as a means whereby visual motifs and style in films can be categorized and analyzed will additionally be included. The gender representation, in particular the representation of women, will also be integrated. References to various important directors of this era is also to be found and my opinions on their work. Classical narrative cinema refers to a cinema tradition that dominated Hollywood production from the 1930’s to the 1960’s but which also pervaded mainstream western cinema. This tradition is still present in mainstream or dominant cinema in some or all of its parts. Classical narrative is what Tom Wallis (Film: a critical introduction, Tom Wallis, 1) calls ‘excessively obvious cinema’ in which the cinematic style of the film will leave little or nothing to the imagination and nothing is left unfinished with all the loose ends eventually tied up. Unity is the key word here, the connections between cause and effect will always be direct and complete before the audience leaves the cinema. It will possesses a linear projectory which will generally be a beginning, a complication, a middle, another complication, and an ending. Another way of looking at this linear projectory is the form of ‘order/disorder/order-restored’. The beginning of the film will establish an event which disrupts a seemingly harmonious order which in turn sets in motion a chain of events that are casually linked. At the end the disorder is resolved and order is once again in place. The chain of events constituting the story is governed by the motivations of the main characters. These are usually well rounded people with their own individual traits and motivations. An important aspect of the classical narrative is its constitution of the central character as a ‘hero’. In the case of the Western genre, John Wayne would be arguably the most iconic protagonist figure to this era. All genres have their codes and conventions or ‘rules’ in which the narrative is managed. These are referred to as canons. Codes and conventions change over time and according to the social situation of the era. It is easy to compare John Wayne’s all American hero to...
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