If you are like me, you love all genres and decades of movies. From the glamourous silver screen starlets of the 30’s to the alien world of special effects and superheroes of today, I really do love sitting down with a big glass of Coke and a tub of popcorn to watch the film. It seems like things have changed so much since movies became an entertainment staple over 100 years ago. But how much have things really changed over the years?
Classic VS Modern Hollywood
Doesn’t it feel like every few months modern cinema is churning out another sequel, remake or slightly new take on a story we have seen a hundred times? As a movie buff this can be disheartening because I truly enjoy new and interesting cinema. Strangely enough this seemingly never-ending streak of Hollywood unoriginality is actually endemic to the art form from the very beginning.Most of the early Hollywood films were based on plays or books. The movie that is often credited with starting the Golden Age of Hollywood The Jazz Singer (1927) is actually based on a successful Broadway play. Other Classic Hollywood hits such as Gone With the Wind (1939), Casablanca (1942), The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) just to name a few were all based on previous written works. Hollywood has found a formula of turning already popular works into films and profiting. If it has worked from the beginning of the golden age, why stop now?Since its inception Hollywood has always been a fantasy world. Movies are the one place where all of the social standards and aesthetic ideals have melded together to create a “perfect” world in order to better tell the story. Because of this it has continually set unrealistic beauty standards for women and men alike all over the world.
My friends often lament the “good old days” when celebrities looked like real people, as opposed to the overly bronzed, bleached and plastic celebrities that we are bombarded with on a daily basis.Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, the celebrities of Classic Hollywood were also beautiful, but they were unable to resort to surgery or photoshop to achieve their signature looks.Classic Hollywood actors and actresses are a breath of fresh air to those of us used to several decades of what I consider overdone beauty. The slight imperfections that they might have actually make them more relatable in a way that modern celebrities often lack. Stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, who famously flaunted the medical condition that cursed her with a second set of eyelashes, gave everyday women confidence to be comfortable in their own skin.
One of the biggest differences between the Hollywood of yesteryear and the modern blockbuster era lies outside the actors, but rather with their support. Modern techniques have truly built on their forerunners and have culminated in a smorgasbord of smoke and mirrors, miniatures, and ultimately the modern era of CGI.The Wizard of Oz (1939)is widely considered a true classic, with a soundtrack that has stood the test of time, and brilliant visuals.Today these visuals are taken for granted, I mean, how hard can it be to shoot in sepia for 15 minutes of total film time, and then just shoot the rest in color? It’s not just the color/sepia juxtaposition that is so impressive, but how they pulled off the transition. Mid scene Dorothy hesitantly steps from a world of drab sepia, to vibrant color. The current film technology could not accomplish this; they had to resort to a true Hollywood staple: smoke and mirrors.