European Cinema Essay

European Cinema Essay

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The case for European cinema can be made by pointing out how persistently the different national cinemas have positioned themselves in opposition to Hollywood, at least since the end of the First World War, and increasingly after the Second World War... In the set of binary oppositions that usually constitute the field of academic film studies, the American cinema is invariably the significant (Bad) Other, around which both the national and “art/auteur” cinemas are defined...
-Thomas Elsaesser, European Cinema: Face to Face with Hollywood, pp. 16-17.

At first look Elsaesser’s quote seems straight forward. However on further examination of his book he quite often rescinds that very statement. What may be seen as contradictory and reductive is really a poignant remark about the colours in between the black and the white. Though once accurate, to label American cinema as the Bad other is to miss the point of the complex and difficult relationship that America and Europe have enjoyed over the past 115 years. Though that may have been true at one point in time, the cinema that binds and/or separates them has changed, so to has the political, cultural and economic spectrum of both countries. A new point-of-view is required as globalization has taken hold. This essay intends to disprove the notion of Hollywood as simply the “Bad” other with an exploration of the changing climate of both the European and Hollywood industries.

We must, however, begin with a little history. Though simultaneously invented in 1895 in France and in America, it is important to note that the cinemas were inherently different with the Thomas Edison developing his camera with mass international sales and copyrights in mind, a mere spectacle, as opposed t...


... middle of paper ...


...identity is something that has been achieved through the rally against, and sometimes with, Hollywood. Though this may be true to some extent, European identity as a whole is something that has not been reached, and, indeed, would be very difficult to achieve. One merely has to think of problems of television as a new form of representative to the nation, the disparity between Western, Central, and Eastern European nations and their cinemas, and the increasing role of EU to find that any conclusions that have been reached in this essay cannot reach over all of Europe. However it should be seen here that despite the fact that a lot more work is needed in this area, but space does not permit me to visit, there was an attempt to break the most basic binary that too often binds the work of film students and theorists: that Hollywood is the bad other to the European self.

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