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Film Studies
Film Studies 1020E
Barbara Bruce

The History and Principles of Classical Hollywood Style - in preparation for next week, I want to outline very briefly the history and principles of the Classical Hollywood Cinema (CHC), which is the dominant paradigm of narrative form  “paradigm”: A representative or typical model, [. . .] a set of narrative and stylistic standards which, according to tacit rules, can be adjusted, changed, and/or substituted for one another” - the Classical Hollywood Style developed in the American film industry from early 1900s through the 1920s and into 1930s  as a style, though, it is constantly under revision - what is important is not the rules of the style but the intended effect of those rules:  a clear and coherent narrative action that the trained spectator can follow with minimal effort  the classical style rigidly subordinates time and space to clear narrative action  and the classical style's diegesis creates its own rules of space and time  these rules of space and time can be thought of as illusion, which attempts to absorb us into the diegesis  in other words, we don’t see every minute of a story, nor every location  the filmmakers cut out the unnecessary to create a tight plot  because of the clear and easy classical diegesis, viewers tend to get lost in the story - central to the CHC is the principle of "narrative economy": o the economical style which maximizes our absorption and minimizes distractions—a lean, mean approach to filmmaking - narrative economy is paralleled in production economy, especially during Classical era of studio production from the 1930s through to the 1950s  the studio’s rationalized production (BT Ch. 1) is often compared to a factory assembly line  in fact, the development of the studio system in the 1910s and 20s was based on industrial models developed by Henry Ford  the aim was to streamline production  the system was dependent on coordinated efforts of each member of a large production team (see Ch 1), as well as heavily capitalized system of production, state of the art equipment, skilled workers, & centralized management - the Hollywood studios are typically divided into major and minor (make sure you memorize the studios) o the majors (aka “The Big 5”):  Paramount  Warner Brothers  20th Century Fox  MGM (Metro Goldwyn Mayer)  RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum) o the minors:  Columbia Universal United Artists o from 1930-1945, these 8 studios controlled 95% of all films exhibited in the USA and produced 500 films per year o the other 5% was produced by Independent studios (aka Poverty Row studios
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