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What is French Impressionism – Definition and Examples

Film Movements in Cinema: French Impressionism

The horrors and the atrocities of the First World War provided existential fodder for the rise of the French Impressionist movement, which focused on silent film and spanned a time period of approximately 1918 to 1930.

The movement was unequivocally and unapologetically rooted in French nationalism. The production houses of the time we’re hungry for anything that wasn’t American and as a result, we’re extremely supportive of its native filmmakers, who were committed to delving into the deepest, darkest reaches and recesses of the human psyche in terms of their storytelling and how it was captured on film.

Innovation in French Impressionistic Filmmaking

Keep in mind that this was during the silent film era, so there was much more of an emphasis on the visuals to convey the story, and as a result, filmmakers pushed the envelope in terms of developing a non-linear editing style as well as employing new camera styles, which included POV and widescreen angles. Not like the French New Wave.

They loved to experiment with new lighting styles, and the directors weren’t afraid to employ extreme measures in order to achieve the desired effect, such as putting a cameraman on a pair of roller skates.

French Impressionistic Filmmaking Subject Matter

As stated before, the storytelling tended to be dark in nature and didn’t shy away from taboo subjects; one such film entitled The Seashell and the Clergyman, directed by Germaine Dulac, did a deep, disturbing, albeit surreal dive into the psyche of a priest who had designs on a general’s wife. One writer humorously stated the title’s seashell was something “you definitely wouldn’t put anywhere near your ear.”

Filmmakers went from the initiate and at times, disturbing, to sweeping epics such as Napolèon.

Notable French Impressionism Filmmakers

Notable filmmakers of the time included Jean Epstein, Abel Gance, Marcel L’Herbier, and the aforementioned Germaine Dulac.

Notable French Impressionism Films

Notable films of the French Impressionist movement included The Seashell and the Clergyman (1928), Napolèon (1927) Fievre (1921), The Smiling Madame Beudet (1923) and The Faithful Heart (1923).

French Impressionism’s profound impact on French Cinema was far-reaching and is reflected in the later films of Alain Resnais, Jean Cocteau, and Marcel Carné to mention a few.

https://youtu.be/cRrjE2O2aas

French Impressionism Fun Facts

  • If you thought James Cameron’s Titanic was long, try sitting through Abel Gance’s The Wheel which was a three-evening event.
  • If you thought to switch out Titanic’s two VHS tapes was too much to ask, imagine the projectionist who had to maintain and switch out The Wheel’s 32 reels! Talk about a workout!
  • Marcel L’Herbier’s El Dorado (1921) was one of the first recorded cases of production going over budget. (Take that, Heaven’s Gate and John Carter of Mars!)
  • Visionary director Stanley Kubrick called Napoléon “really terrible. Technically (the director) was ahead of his time and he introduced new film techniques… but as far as story and performance go, it’s a very crude picture.”
  • The British Board of Film Censors summarily dismissed The Seashell and the Clergyman as “so cryptic as to be almost meaningless. If there is a meaning, it is doubtless objectionable”.

If you liked The Film Movement in Cinema Series, then you’ll love:

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Gareth Edwards: From ‘Monsters’ to ‘Rogue One’

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a breath of fresh air into the somewhat stale Star Wars franchise, especially after the painfully derivative, completely uninspired, by-the-numbers The Force Awakens. New characters took center stage, including yet another female protagonist,  and with some support from some legacy characters including Darth Vader and CGI versions of Grand Moff Tarkin and a young Princess Leia; and it turned out to be for most fans, a very satisfying film.

At the helm of this epic film was a little known director by the name of Gareth Edwards.

So who is this Gareth Edwards we speak of? How did he make the jump into hyperspace and become part of the Star Wars universe as well as reboot one of the most popular monster film franchises of all time (read Godzilla)?

Gareth Edwards 101

Gareth Edwards was a Star Wars fan from the get-go. In fact, in an interview, he shared the story of seeing Star Wars for the first time and wanting to join the Rebel Alliance. Unfortunately, according to him, he learned that the Rebel Alliance was a “lie” but become hooked on filmmaking and decided it was going to be his career path.

The directors he considered to be his major influences were George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Quentin Tarantino. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham in 1986, and would later receive an honorary Master’s degree from the same university.

From there, he moved into visual effects and his work showed up in various programs that eventually showed up on the Discovery Channel and BBC.  During that time, he made the leap doing visual effects; he admits that the first directing gig was for a TV episode on a TV series that hardly anyone watched and had a budget under $90,000.

In 2008, he took part in the 48 Hour Film Festival, and as luck would have it, they gave his group the Science Fiction Genre.  It was game on. Forty-eight hours later, he and his crew delivered a complete short film that took top honors at the festival.

The film depicts a sentry hunting down a man of interest while remembering a small child-headed through the corridors of what seems to be a hospital, but is revealed in the final moments as something completely different.  From viewing the film (below), one can see his cinema style influenced by his unofficial mentors.

About Monsters

The idea for Monsters was born during a trip to the beach.  According to Edwards:

I remember being abroad on the beach and watching these guys really struggling to pull a fishing net from the ocean. I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but you could tell they were teasing each other about it and I thought it would be funny if, when they finally pulled it out, it had a giant sea creature on the end or something… Yet they were carrying on as if this was part of their everyday life.” (Empire Magazine, Issue #257, November 2010). 

He ran with the idea, and over time, it morphed into a romantic Science Fiction drama feature film centering around a cynical photojournalist responsible for the safe passage of his boss’s daughter through the “infected area” of South America, overrun with massive octopus-like creatures from another planet.

His pitch received the immediate green light from Vertigo Films and his budget was $500,000. What Edwards did with that 500 grand was nothing short of remarkable. What was even more remarkable is that he would deliver the film under budget! 

Finding the right combination of actors to play the photojournalist and the daughter would be essential in conveying the emotional gravity of the film.

As luck would have it, he found the actors who were an actual couple. The photojournalist would be played by Scoot McNairy, and the boss’s daughter would be played by Whitney Able. At first, Edwards wasn’t sold on Able; he thought she was too pretty, but then after some discussions, he realized that if he could deliver even a fraction of their real-life chemistry that it would be an incredible plus for the film.

Scriptment vs Treatment

Edwards eschewed the normal filmmaking conventions of writing a screenplay and settled on just a scriptment consisting of points the actors need to cover within the scene.  While this approach would result in a much more organic, realistic performance from the actors, it also proved to be problematic when it came to reshoots, as the actors had no point of reference.

Guerrilla Shooting During Guerrilla Warfare

Principal Photography lasted three weeks and was shot on location in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Texas, most of the time during a drug war raging all around them.

The production was the epitome of guerrilla filmmaking, with Edwards serving as both Director and Director of Photography, which the rest of the crew consisting of the Sound Operator, The Mexican Fixer, who was responsible for ensuring safe passage as well as other logistical issues, The Line Producer, and the two lead actors. 

While the crew was running and gunning their way through the jungles and villages of South America, the Editor and his assistant were busy at the hotel, downloading the footage from memory sticks to the computer so that they could shoot the next day.

The supporting cast were all played by locals with little or no acting experience. 

This shoot was by no means smooth; it fraught with peril as they encountered all sorts of crime, including shootings, a street market attack, a prison riot, and a mass shooting at the cafe the day prior to their filming at the location.

Gareth and company shot a total of 100 hours of footage. Editing and sculpting the story would be a massive undertaking. Turning 100 hours into 90 minutes would be a daunting task for Edwards, but once the film was locked, the next five months would consist of creating over 250 visual effects shots.

Sitting Up and Taking Notice

Vertigo Pictures’ $500,000 investment paid off handsomely. It premiered at South by Southwest in 2010. The critics were split on the film, but it didn’t matter as the film went on to gross $4.2 million at the box office.  The movie garnered six British Independent Film Award nominations and won for Best Director, Best Technical Achievement, and Best Achievement in Production.

Monstrous Review

Monsters, is at its core, a Science Fiction relationship drama. The lead characters, played admirably by Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able, take us on quite an emotional journey as they meet have to travel to through the “infected area” in order to return home to the United States. 

During their journey, they grow closer together as they realize the lives they’re going home to isn’t all that. 

There’s no doubt that Spielberg’s JAWS and his Tom Cruise centric remake of The War of the Worlds provided a cinematic blueprint for the characters’ path forward.

Edwards uses money shots sparingly, creating tension by the use of ominous creature sound effects, gives us terrifying glimpses of the creature during the prologue, mid-way through the movie, throws in a tentacle or two for good measure, and then saves the best for the last at the climactic scene at an abandoned gas station.

The ending, while unexpected, seemed to be anticlimactic and climactic at the same time.

The film shares many of the themes of District 9, in terms of being quarantined, and the references to illegal immigration. Edwards portrays the military as a malevolent force when in all actuality the creatures just might be misunderstood, and wouldn’t you know that near the end of the film, five years before Donald Trump would take place, there would be a discussion of a wall along the southern border to keep the bad things out.

While the film was beautifully shot by Edwards, with some arresting visuals and with some undeniably winning performances by its leads, Act Two seemed to be more of a travelogue than a race to the border, which diminished the dramatic tension of the piece.  Let’s just say that if I was in an area that was overrun by creatures that could kill me, the last thing that I would do is stop to take a nap.

The monsters themselves are extremely reminiscent of Steven Spielberg’s remake of The War of the Worlds. There are a lot of questions surrounding Earth’s new visitors, such as where they came from, what was their agenda, and what was their endgame.  Ultimately, the tentacled creatures turn out to be a bunch of slimy Greta Garbo, who just want to be left alone.

Monsters doesn’t pretend to be a Hollywood Blockbuster. Despite its small shortcomings, the protagonists in this film are believable and relatable, with its unexpected final seconds of the film giving Mankind hope for the future.

Gareth Edwards, The Big Green Lizard, and Darth Vader

While it wasn’t a billion-dollar blockbuster in the mold of a Star Wars or a Marvel movie, Monsters substantial calling card for Edwards during a time that studios were hungry for up-and-coming directors to direct the latest opus of their franchise.

Enter Godzilla. Legendary Pictures had purchased the rights to the legacy characters of the popular franchise and it was full speed ahead with Godzilla with Edwards helming the first film.

Based on the success of that film, he was immediately signed to do the sequel but eventually bowed out (an amicable split according to the trades) when another small gig came along, from a small mom-and-pop shop called Lucasfilm to do a little trifle Rogue One: a Star Wars Story, which ended up grossing over a billion dollars at the box office.

Gareth Edwards’ Indie Film Hustle

There are several takeaways from Edwards’ journey.

First, filmmakers need to start off small and shoot small films (which Edwards did during his film school experience). Next, he worked within the constraints of what he had at his disposal, which he learned throughout his 48 Film Festival experience.  Once he proved his mettle, then he would gain the credibility for someone to invest half a million in his talent.

Additionally, he knew he had a good story and wasn’t afraid to take the road less traveled in creating a scriptment instead of toiling for years, crossing the t’s and dotting the I’s in a traditional screenplay.

He also learned that the luxury of having a large crew can be an actual impediment to the creative process and that you can create an epic story with a small cast and crew

When you look at Edwards’ trajectory, there seems to be a real sense of urgency; he went from shooting a 48-hour film project to creating his feature film in the span of two years. While it may not be documented, one can also surmise that his willingness to shoot one hundred hours of footage and then go through the painstaking process of editing it down to 90 minutes meant that his focus and vision changed along the way and that his flexibility was his pathway to Monsters’ success, and ultimately realizing his dream of being part of the Star Wars universe.

Soviet Montage: Film Movements in Cinema

Everyone who has ever seen a movie has at some point in time, seen a section of films were a series of shots that indicate actions over a span of time, usually without dialogue. This is what is referred to as a Montage, which is French for assembly or editing.

This cinematic device originated during the Silent Film Era as part of a movement called the Soviet Montage Movement.

While the most notable director in the Soviet Montage Movement was director Sergei Eisenstein, the chief architect of this movement was director Lev Kuleshov.

Eisenstein declared in

“A Dialectic Approach to Film Form that to determine the nature of montage is to solve the specific problem of cinema.”

Moreover, though, Montage created a cinematic language that helped overcome the illiteracy of the Soviets at the time, using images rather than words, in order to adequately communicate the precepts and the ideals of the Communist Party. It also served to create a clear distinction between American and Russian filmmaking styles.

Soviet Montage Movement Film Characteristics

Without getting too far into the weeds, Montage’s theory brought a set of rules and structures to film. While American film would stick closer to the script, Montage directors and theorists preferred, as one writer referred to, as a “collision of images” to achieve meaning. It relied on images rather than words on title cards.

Further exploration of the Soviet Montage Style and how it affected filmmaking throughout the ages can be found below:

Influential Soviet Montage Movement Directors

Perhaps the greatest example of the Soviet Montage movement was the film the Battleship Potemkin, directed by Sergei Eisenstein. The story was told in five acts and focused on the 1905 incident where the crew of the ill-fated ship mutinied against its officers.

The Acts were entitled Men and Maggots, Drama on the Deck, A Dead Man Calls Out, The Odessa Steps, and One Against All. Other notable Soviet Montage Movement directors included Dziga Vertov and Vsevolod Pudovkin.

Popular Soviet Montage Films

  • Kino-Eye (1924)
  • Battleship Potemkin (1925)
  • The Death Ray (1925)
  • Mother (1926)
  • Zvenigora (1927)
  • October: Ten Days That Shook the World (1928)
  • Man With a Movie Camera (1929)
  • A Simple Case (1932)

Soviet Montage Movement Films

While the most prolific film of the time was the Battleship Potemkin, other movies of the time included Dziga Vertov’s documentary Kino-Eye (1924).

This documentary follows the joys of life in a Soviet village centers around the activities of the Young Pioneers who are always busy, pasting propaganda posters on walls, distributing fliers, and helping poor widows.

Lev Kuleshov’s The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks (1924), featured the travels of a character called Mr. West who learns the truth about how America perceives the Soviet people.

German Expressionism: Film Movements in Cinema

German Expressionism (1919-1926)

German life in the 1920s wasn’t exactly all sunshine and rainbows and dancing until the cows came home. It was more like War was Hell, we lost, life really sucks, and we’re just going to wallow in it for the next seven years or so. German Expressionism pulled out all of the stops to view life through an extremely dark lens.

Characteristics of German Expressionism Film

If you thought movies of the French Impression Movement were dark and disjointed and at times pretty psychotic, lookout. The movies of the German Expression movement were extremely dark, like really, really dark, and were the things that nightmares were made of, and did I mention that they were depressing as Hell and downright disturbing.

Can you imagine walking out of the theaters of the time? Talk about feeling unsettled and needing a drink!

It’s little wonder that this movement blazed an eerie path leading to the famous Universal Studios horror films. The movies were dark, stark, with angular, shadowy characters like in the classic Nosferatu.

The atmosphere was everything, and keep in mind that we’re talking about this movement as being part of the overall Silent Film era.

German Expressionism Movement Movies

Some of the more notable movies of the German Expressionist movement include Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Destiny, Golem, Fury, and Dr. Mabuse and the Gambler, just to mention an unsettling few.

Influential German Expressionism Directors

Some of the most prolific directors during the German Expressionism Movement included Fritz Lang, Robert Wiene, and F.W. Murnau. It’s also interesting to note that both Lang and Wiene were also actors from time to time.

Fritz Lang was given the moniker of The Master of Darkness by the British Film Institute.

Storytelling

As stated before, life wasn’t a picnic. They were an exploration of our darkest selves and our deepest fears.

Metropolis gave audiences a nightmarish glimpse into the future, where a heroine tries to unite the working classes together. H.G. Wells himself dismissed it as trite and simplistic, while others were not too crazy about the Communist subtext. Its running time of 153 minutes turned out to be a bit of a slog, and it was trimmed for length immediately after the premiere.

One can easily see the film’s visual style reflected in many modern-day science fiction masterpieces such as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Nosferatu (1922)

starring Max Schreck as the bug-eyed, long-fingered Count Orick, was an unofficial and unauthorized “adaptation” of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Stoker’s estate sued the filmmakers and all copies of the film were ordered to be destroyed, but a few copies managed to survive, and to this day the film is heralded as an influential masterpiece of cinema.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

The film told the story of an evil hypnotist who uses an unwitting sleepwalker to commit murder.

Spoiler Alert: It actually turns out that the whole story was a delusion, and the subtext seemed to imply the German psychological need to place their will and their trust into the hands of a madman (AKA Adolf you-know-who). Ironically, Dr. Caligari ends up becoming an inmate in his own asylum.

Roger Ebert hailed it as the first true honor film, while another reviewer called it cinema’s first cult film and the precursor to art house films. It is also widely considered to be the quintessential work of German Expressionist cinema.

Australian New Wave: Film Movements in Cinema

The Australian New Wave Film Movement (1975-1985), starting in mid-1970 and ending about a decade later, is unabashedly and completely Australian and doesn’t shy away from poking fun at their colloquialisms and the Australian way of life, otherwise known as Ozploitation.

Australian film was pretty much dormant from World War II until about the end of the 1960s, where the Australian government stepped in and revolved the art form, especially through the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. More than 400 films were made between 1970 and 1985, more than the rest of the decades combined.

Filmmaking Styles and Storytelling

Gone were the days of stodgy filmmaking, and this resurrection of the film industry expressed the freedom to tell more daring stories.

Notable Directors and Talent

A staggering number of well-known directors and versatile performers emerged during the Australian New Wave Movement.

Directors such as Gillian Armstrong, Bruce Beresford, George Miller, Fred Schepisi, and Peter Weir would not only make their presence known in Australia but also on the international stage as well. Bruce Beresford would come to America to direct Driving Miss Daisy; George Miller is well known for his hardcore Mad Max series of films, and Peter Weir ended up directing such American films as Witness and Dead Poets Society.

Emerging actors who would also take their place on the world stage included Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge, Eyes Wide Shut), Sam Neill (Jurassic Park), Judy Davis, Bryan Brown, and who could forget Crocodile Dundee’s, Paul Hogan? Australian New Wave Movement Films There are so many outstanding films during the Australian New Wave Movement.

1970’s Movies

Walkabout

Directed by Nicolas Roeg and adapted from the book by James Vance Marshall, it follows the journey of two white children who find themselves alone in the Australian outback until they find an unlikely ally in a teenage aboriginal boy. It was entered into the Cannes Film Festival.

Stork

Based on the play The Coming of Stork by David Williamson and directed by Tim Burstall, this romantic comedy follows the exploits of a 6 foot 7 hypochondriac who falls in love, loses his virginity, and gets the girl.

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Directed by Peter Weir and based on the 1967 book by Joan Lindsay, the plot centers around the disappearance of schoolgirls and their teacher during a picnic in 1900. It was a huge success and was the first breakout hit during the Australian New Wave Movement.

The Last Wave

Peter Weir’s next film, starring Richard Chamberlain, is about a white solicitor in Sydney takes on a murder case and experiences an eerie connection to the local Aboriginal people accused of the crime. The film’s budget was a little over $800,000 and went on to gross $1.25 million and won the Golden Ibex at the 6th International Film Festival.

Mad Max

The biggest film of the first decade of the Australian New Wave Movement was undoubtedly George Miller’s Mad Max. With Mel Gibson in the title role and with a budget of $400,000 (Australian), it earned $100 million worldwide and busted the international doors wide open for other Australian New Wave Films.

My Brilliant Career

Directed by Gillian Armstrong and starring Sam Neil and Judy Davis, this film, based on the book by Miles Franklin, this film about a late 19th-century writer and social limitations, premiered at the New York Film Film Festival and resulted in a BAFTA award for Judy Davis, as well as a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film, and an Oscar Nomination for Best Foreign Film.

Movies of the 1980s

The Australian New Wave Movement was a deluge of incredible films, ranging from period pieces to ridiculous comedies.

Breaker Morant

Directed and Co-Written by Bruce Beresford and adapted from Kenneth G. Ross’s play, this film revolves around the 1902 court-martial of three lieutenants who were accused of murdering the enemy combatants and were charged with war crimes.

Gallipoli

Starring Mel Gibson and directed by Peter Weir about young soldiers during WWI, won 8 AFI Awards including Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography.

Mad Max 2

George Martin and Mel Gibson teamed up once again for another Mad Max romp; it became a cult film and is considered to one of the greatest sequels and action movies of all time. Distributor advertising and renaming the film in the United States result in approximately 30% of the box office than the original.

The Man From Snowy River

Based on the Poem by Banjo Peterson and directed by George Miller, and with a cast including Kirk Douglas and Jack Thompson and Sigurd Thornton, this Australian Western grossed A$50 million at the box office. It’s a sequel, aptly named The Man From Snowy River II, was released by Walt Disney Pictures.

 

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

The final Mad Max movie starring Mel Gibson and the formidable Tina Turner as Aunty Entity, and co-directed by George Miller and George Ogilvie, and was hailed as one of the best films of 1985. It wasn’t impervious to criticism and for some fans of the earlier films, felt that it was slicker and less gritty than its predecessors.

Crocodile Dundee (1986) and Crocodile Dundee II (1988)

These films made Paul Hogan a household name in his films inspired by the life of Rod Ansell. The first movie was a monster hit, grossing 328 million dollars at the US Box Office, and Part II grossed $239 million.

L.A. Rebellion: Film Movements in Cinema

Decades before Black Lives Matter existed there was another movement, which was heavily influenced by the Civil Rights Movement and the L.A. Watts Riots.

The period between 1967-1991 served as a reaction against the 1970’s blaxploitation movies and helped usher in the work of John Singleton, The Hughes Brothers, Robert Townsend and Spike Lee, and the movement as a whole seemed to be determined to depict the black experience in a realistic light.

The UCLA Film school of the late 1960s created a slew of incredible, visionary, powerful African-American filmmakers who would be later known as the LA Rebellion and also the “Los Angeles School of Black Filmmakers”.  Their filmmaking style was much more artistic and was rooted in Latin American Films and Italian neorealism.

The Music

Music played an integral role in the films of the time and would experiment with combining classical, jazz, and urban music. Burnett’s Killer of Sheep (1977) mixed music from the likes of Rachmaninov, Etta James, and Earth, Wind, and Fire. Other movies incorporated the music of legendary musicians such as Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. Below are some influential directors from the film movement.

Charles Burnett

Perhaps the most prolific director of the time was Charles Burnett, whom the New York Times hailed as “the nation’s least-known filmmaker and most gifted black director.“

Burnett, who was born in Mississippi, and then moved to Watts and started to go down the path of being an electrician at LA City College, but ultimately found himself at UCLA’S film school. From there, he collaborated with his peers on their films as a writer, crew member, and cinematographer.

Killer of Sheep, which was Burnett’s thesis film, with a budget of $10,000, centered around life in blue-collar Watts suburbs, has also written and produced short films and documentaries,  has directed many TV movies, and has won numerous awards, including the Freedom In Film award.

Billy Woodberry

Billy Woodberry, born in Dallas, Texas, who moved to Los Angeles to be a part of the UCLA film program, is considered to be one of the pre-eminent directors of the LA Rebellion. His early efforts include his UCLA student films The Pocketbook (1980) and Bless Their Little Hearts (1984).

His short film The Pocketbook, adapted from Langston Hughes’ short story, “Thank You, Ma’am,” centers around an abandoned child who must re-evaluate his life after a botched robbery. He went on to appear in one Charles Burnett’s films as well as provided narration for his own later works.

Julie Dash

Julie Dash, born in Queens, New York, was the first female African-American director whose work received a national theatrical release.

She was raised in the Housing Project in Long Island City, Queens. After graduating from CCNY, she moved to Los Angeles and studied at AFI under directors such as William Friedkin before doing her graduate school work at UCLA.

She has done extensive work in television, and in 2019, announced that she will be directing the Angela Davis biopic through Lionsgate Pictures.

LA Rebellion Filmography

Other films of the LA Rebellion Movement included:

Emma Mae (1974)

Directed by Jamaa Fanaka and also known as Black Sister’s Revenge, finds its lead character robbing a bank to secure bail money for her potential boyfriend, and was released by International Pictures.

Harvest: 3,000 Years (1976)

Passing Through (1977), directed by Larry Clark, starring Nathaniel Taylor with a supporting role from The Jefferson’s Marla Gibbs, and with a budget of $13,000, centers around a Jazz musician joins a revolution after being released from prison.

Bush Mama (1979)

Penitentiary (1979), directed by Jamaa Fanaka, and starring the iconic Leon Isaac Kennedy, centers around the all-too-familiar issue of wrongly imprisoned black youth; the protagonist finds himself in an illegal underground boxing tournament and is forced to fight his way to freedom.

The film also spawned two sequels.

Your Children Come Back to You (1979)

A single mother ekes out a living from welfare check to welfare check, struggling to provide for her daughter. She is faced with the decision to look after her personally or to allow her sister-in-law to provide “more than enough” to go around. Director Alile Sharon Larkin’s film masterfully presents a child’s perspective on wealth and social inequality.

Ashes and Embers (1982)

ASHES AND EMBERS tell the story of an African-American Vietnam vet wrestling with a turbulent past and a chaotic political climate to make a future for himself. Haile Gerima’s rarely seen cinematic achievement ASHES AND EMBERS, winner of the FIPRESSCI Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Illusions (1982)

The time is 1942, a year after Pearl Harbor; the place is National Studios, a fictitious Hollywood motion picture studio. Mignon Duprée, a Black woman studio executive who appears to be white and Ester Jeeter, an African American woman who is the singing voice for a white Hollywood star is forced to come to grips with a society that perpetuates false images as status quo.

This highly-acclaimed drama by one of the leading African American women directors follows Mignon’s dilemma, Ester’s struggle, and the use of cinema in wartime Hollywood: three illusions in conflict with reality. Directed by Julie Dash.

Bless Their Little Hearts (1984)

Billy Woodberry’s UCLA thesis film, which cemented his status as a key player in the LA Rebellion, and was written by Charles Burnett, about a man struggling with joblessness while struggling to keep his family intact.

 

She’s Gotta Have It (1986)

Spike Lee’s breakthrough feature is a provocative portrayal of an independent 80’s woman struggling to maintain her identity while the men around her strive to control and define her.

School Daze (1987)

Directed by  Spike Lee. An off-beat musical comedy that takes an unforgettable look at black college life. Amidst gala coronations, football, fraternities, parades, and parties these characters find themselves caught up in romance and relationships, rituals and rivalries during one outrageous homecoming weekend.

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Directed by visionary filmmaker Spike Lee and featuring a stellar ensemble cast that includes Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Samuel L. Jackson, Rosie Perez, and John Turturro, DO THE RIGHT THING is one of the most thought-provoking and groundbreaking films of the last 30 years.

Hollywood Shuffle (1987)

Directed by Robert Townsend and starring Robert Townsend, Robert Townsend, Robert Townsend, Robert Townsend, Robert Townsend. An actor limited to stereotypical roles because of his ethnicity, dreams of making it big as a highly respected performer. As he makes his rounds, the film takes a satiric look at African American actors in Hollywood.

Boyz in the Hood (1990)

John Singleton made his debut with this gritty coming-of-age story that earned him Academy Award® nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay. Young Tre Styles (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) has been sent by his mother to live with his father, Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburne). Their South Central Los Angeles neighborhood is beset by gang violence and drugs, but Furious managed to avoid their ill effects and is determined to keep his son out of trouble.

He can’t, however, protect Tre from the influence of other forces, including his friends, Doughboy (Ice Cube, in his acting debut), who’s drifting into drugs and run-ins with the law, and Doughboy’s brother, Ricky (Morris Chestnut), a high school football star and teenage father. When a chance encounter leads to gunfire and tragedy, Tre must decide whether to accompany Doughboy on a dangerous mission of revenge.

To Sleep with Anger (1990)

Directed by Charles Burnett and starring Danny Glover, Carl Lumbly, Vonettta McGee and Sheryl Lee Ralph, was hailed as a masterpiece by some reviewers; others like Roger Ebert said it was too long, but it nevertheless won Four Independent Spirit awards and the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Daughters of the Dust (1991)

Directed by Julie Dash, who was the first feature film directed by an African-American, and was about three generations of Gullah women, was part of the 1991 Sundance Film Festival’s dramatic competition and was the first movie by an African-American woman to receive a national theatrical release.

Sankofa (1993)

Menace II Society (1993)

Directed by The Hughes Brothers (Albert Hughes & Allen Hughes). In an unflinching look at the mean streets of the contemporary urban American ghetto, a Black youth–despite his dreams for a better life–ultimately succumbs to the cycle of violence that pervades his community.

The Glass Shield (1994)

Directed by Charles Burnett was a crime drama about two officers who discover a conspiracy surrounding the arrest of a black man, played by Ice Cube. The film also starred Michael Boatman and Lori Petty and featured Bernie Casey and Elliott Gould, distributed by Miramax Films, grossed $3.3 million at the box office.

Adwa (1999)

A documentary directed by Ethiopian Director Halle Gerima tracked the Battle of Adowa.

Compensation (2000)

Directed by Marc Arthur Chéry, a period piece depicting a multiracial couple at the beginning and the end of the twentieth century, had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

The Movie Brats: Film Movements in Cinema

Oh boy, here we go.

The death of the Hollywood studio system in the 1960s gave way to possibly the most prolific filmmakers in movie history; the likes of Robert Altman, Hal Ashby, and Peter Bogdonovich were falling stars and a new group of directors was on the way up. You might have heard of them. They had a thing for beards apparently their names were Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Paul Schrader, Brian DePalma, John Milius and Steven Spielberg.

They were affectionately referred to as The Movie Brats.

These brats didn’t cut their teeth as part of the Studio System. They learned their craft at film school. They were raised for the most part on TV. Coppola went to UCLA, Lucas, and Milius at USC, Scorsese at NYU, and De Palma at Columbia.

Spielberg was a different kind of brat; he didn’t wait until college to start making movies. He started at age 11. This group of talent took Hollywood (and the world) by storm and their box office success boggles the mind.

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Collaboration

The brats didn’t stay in their lane. They weren’t divas who couldn’t be bothered. They cross-pollinated (from a creative standpoint that is), and other creatives threw in as well. For example, composer John Williams was all over the place. (Raiders of the Lost Ark, ET, and Star Wars to name just a few scores). George Lucas shot the second unit for The Godfather. Scorsese asked for input from Spielberg for Taxi Driver.

Everyone was all in to help George Lucas finish Star Wars. In fact, Brian DePalma with the rewrite of the iconic opening crawl. They weren’t averse to sharing profit participation points. Sometimes it was extremely profitable and sometimes… well, Big Wednesday comes to mind.

The Impact of The Movie Brat Movement

The work of the directors of the Movie Brat Movement can be felt today in the work of Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Danny Boyle would have not been possible without the likes of Scorsese.

The Movies of the Movie Brat Movement

The Movie Brats created one blockbuster after another as well as critically acclaimed films, including:

The Godfather (Coppola)

The saga of the Corleone Family, based on a book by Mario Puzo starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, and Talia Shire, and won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

American Graffiti (Lucas)

A coming-of-age comedy set in the 1950s, starring Ron Howard, Candi Clark, Richard Dreyfuss, Cindy Williams, and MacKenzie Phillips. It came up short at the Academy Awards (four nominations, no wins), but won Best Musical or Film at the Golden Globes.

Mean Streets (Scorsese)

The first of many Scorsese crime dramas, starring Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel. While it was a critical darling, it ended up making only $41k at the box office.

The Conversation (Coppola)

A thriller about a surveillance expert who finds out his recordings reveals a potential murder, starring Gene Hackman. Although it won the Grand Prix at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival, it lost to The Godfather Part II at the Academy Awards.

Carrie (DePalma)

At the center of the terror, is Carrie (Spacek), a high school loner with no confidence, no friends… and no idea about the extent of her secret powers of telekinesis. But when her psychotic mother and sadistic classmates finally go too far, the once-shy teen becomes an unrestrained, vengeance-seeking powerhouse who, with the help of her “special gift,” causes all hell to break loose in a famed cinematic frenzy of blood, fire, and brimstone!

Jaws (Spielberg)

Based on the runaway best-seller by Peter Benchley, the epic man against shark thriller starring Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, and Robert Shaw. The film, which spawned three unnecessary sequels, was budgeted at $9 million and was a box office smash, taking in $470 million at the box office.

Taxi Driver (Scorsese)

A psychological thriller starring Jodie Foster, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, was a critical success and made a respectable $28 million at the box office.

Conan The Barbarian (Milius)

Orphaned boy Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is enslaved after his village is destroyed by the forces of vicious necromancer Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones), and is compelled to push “The Wheel of Pain” for many years. Once he reaches adulthood, Conan sets off across the prehistoric landscape of the Hyborian Age in search of the man who killed his family and stole his father’s sword. With beautiful warrior Valeria (Sandahl Bergman) and archer Subotai (Gerry Lopez), he faces a supernatural evil. Screenplay by John Milius and Oliver Stone.

Star Wars (Lucas)

The iconic space opera starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford, with an assist from Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, David Prowse, and James Earl Jones, made a staggering $775 million. The film spun off 8 sequels and prequels, numerous TV series, and enough merchandise to fill a galaxy far, far away.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Spielberg)

Starring Melinda Dillon, Richard Dreyfuss, and a young Cary Elwes, about extraterrestrials coming to earth while the world holds its collective breath and learning to communicate, was the second Science Fiction film blockbuster of 1977 and pulled in $288 million at the box office.

 

Nora Ephron Screenplays (Download PDF)

Nora Ephron (1941-2012) was the preeminent female screenwriters and directors in the business. From Silkwood Julie & Julia, her work was second to none.  Coincidentally, Meryl Streep appeared in her first and last films.

The screenplays below are the only scripts that are available online. If you find any of her missing screenplays please leave the link in the comment section.

(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).


SILKWOOD (1983)

Screenplay by Nora Ephron & Alice Arden – Read the screenplay!

MY BLUE HEAVEN (1986)

Screenplay by Nora Ephron – Read the transcript

WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (1989)

Screenplay by Nora Ephron – Read the screenplay

SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (1993)

Screenplay by Nora Ephron – Read the screenplay

YOU’VE GOT MAIL (1998)

Screenplay by Nora Ephron – Read the screenplay

HANGING UP (2000)

Screenplay by Nora Ephron – Read the transcript

Ridley Scott Film’s Screenplay PDF Collection (Download)

Take a listen to the legendary Ridley Scott as he discusses his screenwriting and filmmaking process. The screenplays below are the only ones that are available online. If you find any of his missing screenplays please leave the link in the comment section.

(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).


THE DUELISTS (1977)

Screenplay by Gerald Vaughan-Hughes  – Read the transcript!

ALIEN (1979)

Screenplay by Dan O’Bannen – Read the screenplay!

BLADE RUNNER (1982)

Screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples – Read the screenplay!

LEGEND (1985)

Screenplay by William Hjortsberg – Read the screenplay!

BLACK RAIN (1989)

Screenplay by Craig Bolotin and Warren Lewis – Read the screenplay!

THELMA AND LOUISE (1991)

Screenplay by Calle Khouri – Read the screenplay!

1492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE (1992)

Screenplay by Rose Bosch – Read the screenplay!

WHITE SQUALL  (1996)

Screenplay by Todd Robinson – Read the screenplay!

G.I. JANE (1997)

Screenplay by David Twohy and Danielle Alexandra – Read the Screenplay!

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GLADIATOR (2001)

Screenplay by David Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson – Read the screenplay!

HANNIBAL (2001)

Screenplay by Steven Zallian –