Week 2 Part 1 - The Beautiful Spell

This week we studied ... The Hollywood Studio cinema, 1920s onwards

It would appear that American audiences held little concern for authenticity and realism. Rather a society emerging from the ravages of the Great Depression revelled in the seduction and warped 'perfect' world that the Hollywood Studio system chose to portray.

Audiences didn't mind that studio stars could travel the world from the comfort of a perfectly lit, purpose built set. Cinema goers were happy for lead actress's to stand still, poised, unfathomably beautiful under the lights, costume and makeup which created their mystical aurora. They wanted a 'reality' far from the one they had just lived through.

The Great Depression could be one reason I think the Hollywood Studio system was so easily and unquestionably adopted into the hearts and minds of the American public. A nation which had lived in economic horror was happy to watch a fantasy unveil before their eyes on a Saturday evening. Also, this was a chance for Hollywood to re-instate the American Dream. Ordinary girls and guys plucked from obscurity and escalated through the dizzy heights of the studio to emerge as 'stars' of the screen ... or so the studio publicity departments would wish them to believe.

More so, all of this fantastical and beautiful world was captured in a neat 90 minutes. Each story unfolded with a stock of 'characters' instantly recognised by the paying public. Arguably it's a comfort to an audience to second guess the ending and this is what characterisation (type casting) allowed. Even if you hadn't read the book you could guess the ending of Gone With the Wind without destroying the entertaining details in-between - and that predictable outcome having been defined and realised by the film makers gave the audience a sense of pride, a sense of belonging, a fleeting moment of thinking you, as the audience, were part of the film making process. A confirmation of your own intelligence for managing to guess the very predicable outcome.
The audience's obvious love and adoration for the studio 'stars' helped make the star's themselves feel as though they had 'made' the film. In reality it was always the carefully crafted and heavily controlling studio system. But for an actress to upset the lighting designer or cinematographer could result in a career disaster as the 'beautiful spell' would be broken. The audiences didn't want reality they wanted the American Dream in it's most epic, beautiful form

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