INI115: Introduction to Film Study
Topic: The Classical Film
Date: 8 January 2013
1) Introduction to Second Semester
2) The Studio System and Hollywood’s “Golden Age”
3) Characteristics of Classical Hollywood Cinema
4) Film Form and Classical Hollywood Cinema
Introduction to Second Semester
• While the first term was devoted largely to formal analysis, which demands focus on films
as self- sufficient entities and thus an exclusive privileging of the textual, the second
semester will provide many opportunities to think about the extratextual and intertextual
• The meanings that spectators make when interacting with a film can be affected
profoundly by extratextual materials surrounding that film, including publicity, reviews,
DVD bonus materials, academic analyses, and the social reality that prevails during its
production, release, and/or screening.
• The intertextual relations between two or more films are determined by the connections
and/or differences they have between them.
• The second semester of our course is divided into three sections, each of which
foregrounds one of these terms; we will be emphasizing the textual, then the intertextual,
and the extratextual in turn.
The Studio System and Hollywood’s “Golden Age”
• The classical film is a product of the Hollywood studio system, which began to take shape
in the late teens/early 20s, but was fully consolidated during Hollywood’s Golden Age, the
1930s through the 1950s.
• Hollywood studios were vertically integrated companies that drew on their own pool of
contracted laborers and developed a distinct identity based of the kind of films they
produced and circulated.
• The studios engaged in a variety of serial manufacturing that allowed for them to make
films quickly and systematically.
• The producer-unit system both depended upon and ensured the standardization of film
Characteristics of Classical Hollywood Cinema -bound by rules that limit individual innovation -is characterized by formal unity
to be realistic
-strives to be comprehensible and unambiguous
-possesses a fundamental emotional appeal -regards telling a story as a film’s chief concern -
conceals its artifice
Film Form and Classical Hollywood Cinema
• Film form in the classical film is dictated by conventions that affect both the narrative
system and the stylistic system.
• Classical narratives are characterized by tight causality and psychologically ba