This chapter explores Hollywood’s influence on global film. It does so by focusing on the establishment of the Hollywood ‘model’ of filmmaking – and the ways in which the model developed during the studio period of the 1930s-1950s has come to be seen by industry practitioners, audiences and scholars as almost the definition of what cinema can be (at least what entertainment cinema can be).
The chapter does this partly by exploring concepts like genre and looking at the ways in which some genres occur in several different film industries across the world. It suggests that there is sometimes a dynamic interaction between similar genres in different film industries. The two genres discussed in more detail are Melodramas and the Western. Melodrama is acknowledged as having roots in Europe theatre, but is also present in the theatrical traditions of Asian cultures, so that in contemporary film cultures it is possible to discern links between European, American and Asian approaches to certain kinds of films.
The Western might be thought of as very much an American genre, but Westerns have been made in many countries and other film genres such as the Japanese films about ronin – the masterless samurai of eighteenth and nineteenth century Japan – use similar elements. The cross-fertilisation of film-producing industries through various forms of borrowing and official remakes has always been important and the chapter explores the example of attempts in the US, India and China to remake the smash-hit comedy My Sassy Girl from South Korea.
The other main concern of this chapter is the role that Hollywood plays in film studies itself. There is a danger that the ‘Hollywood model’ is seen as having established a ‘classical mode’ of filmmaking and this in turn means that all other forms of filmmaking are defined as ‘not Hollywood’ or as ‘alternatives to Hollywood’ – rather than as distinctive on their own terms. This translates in film studies into courses which sometimes oppose ‘World Cinema’ and ‘Hollywood’ – and questioning that kind of formulation is central to The Global Film Book.
What is melodrama? attempts to introduce ideas about the development of melodrama. This posting has proved one of the most popular on ‘The Case for Global Film’.
Links in the chapter
UNESCO (for Bulletin on Film Statistics)