Originality and Repetition in Contemporary Cinema

Topics: Film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Film noir Pages: 6 (2024 words) Published: November 5, 2005
Originality and Repetition in Contemporary Cinema

It seems that the innovation of Contemporary Cinema has come to a stand still. Audiences are becoming more and more difficult to please, as films endure the comments of "seen that!" or "that's been done before!" leaving filmmakers struggling to break away from the rigid structure of genre to produce somethings fresh and new for contemporary audiences. Hollywood, in particular, is being seen as producing films that are "commercial, aimed at a mass market, ideologically and aesthetically conservative, and more imbued with the values of entertainment and fantasy rather than realism art or serious aesthetic stylization" (Neale, 2000, p.4). Featherstone (1992, pp.7-8) stresses that Postmodernism in the arts is resulting in "the decline of the originality/genius of the artistic producer" and the assumption that "art can only be repetition"as it becomes very difficult to break away from the classic genre, narrative structure and character archetypes, at best created by Hollywood. David Lynch's Mullholland Drive (2001) and Charlie Kaufman's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) are two Postmodernist films that attempt to steer clear of cliche Hollywood genre and structure, like most US/Indie Arthouse films of their kind. Both films present visual motifs that are surreal, anxiety-ridden and enigmatic; embedded narrative; non-sequential order rather that traditional linearity; unsynched sound-image juxtapositions; fragmented plotline and the application of Freudian/Surrealist dream mechanisms of displacement, condensation and mis-recognition" (Perlmutter, 2005, p.7). Though both artistically and aesthetically beautiful with their use of dialogue and images, and nothing short of entertaining, Mulholland Drive and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind still present techniques and themes done by cinematic greats before them.

In the 1920's Russian Filmmakers such as Sergei Eistenstien and Dziga Vertov began exploring film as not only a mechanical production of realism but instead as a medium of for exploring and transforming reality. This idea of Film as artwork was a revolutionary thought. Russian Film Formalists developed camera editing techniques to produce the principle of montage and visual juxtaposition, to reflect different perspectives of reality that would engage the opinions and emotions of audiences. D.W Griffith, an early American film director was also making history as he integrated parallel action, cross-cutting, multiple camera angles and shots such as the "close up" into mainstream directing.

The peak of Industrialism in the Modern Age meant that there was growing technologies available to make moving pictures, and a new emergance of wealth and a "middle class" saw more people gaining time for leisure at a disposable income. Film was the ultimate entertainment response to these facts of Industrial, Modernist life.

Of course as the hype of Industrilisation subdued and a Postmodernist Age reigned, so to did the ideals of mass-popular culture and consumer capitalism. Film (particularily in America) by the end of the 1950's became completely dominated by the Hollywood Studio System, comprising of powerful corporations such as Warners Bros and Paramount, generating approximately 90% of box office revenue. Hollywood is responsible for manufacturing the "star" and for also creating the classic Hollywood genres- the western, the gangster film, the musical, the horror film, melodrama, comedy, romance and the like. Hollywood today still generates the bulk of international film revenue. Essentially all films repeat the classic beginning-middle-climax-resolution narrative structure, and in some way reflect one or more of the above genres. In today's film industry, a film must fit a recognisable genre, have a recognisable structure and ideally star recognisable, "star" actors or actresses to achieve audience popularity and in turn financial success.

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