In what ways is European Cinema different from Hollywood Cinema?

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Jemma Culpin

Introduction to European Cultures (Lang 1002): Assignment 1: Mr Y Tardy

In what ways is European Cinema different from Hollywood Cinema?

In the twentieth century, European countries felt threatened by 'Hollywoodisation' because of America's success in the film industry at distributing films worldwide.  However, from the late 1950's European cinema was beginning to be seen as distinct, thus establishing European cinema and classical Hollywood cinema to include differing aspects.  Bordwell, Goddard and Gorin were theorists who believed that Hollywood cinema was a classic norm and that European cinema deviated from their traditional normalities and formulated different ways that Hollywood could be contrasted to European cinema.

European Cinema could easily be said to be different from Hollywood cinema through narrative.  Hollywood mainstream cinema is established to have a "coherent, linear narrative" where there are clear developed patterns within the discourse illustrated through Todorov's invention of the 'equilibrium' theory.  This demonstrates that every film begins with possible " opposing forces in balance" leading to a disequilibrium (disrupted event) within the narrative and concludes with a resolution of equilibrium.  This can be illustrated within many classical Hollywood Movies such as Armageddon where everything seems relatively ok (equilibrium) then characters discover the world is to be destroyed by a massive meteor (dis-equilibrium), unless they save the day, which they do (illustrating equilibrium).  Thus establishing a clear series of motivational causes and effect for characters and the narrative itself, while at the same time establishing resolution and closure to the diegesis.  The worlds safety, the daughter marrying her boyfriend (suggested through dialogue) and the father represented as watching over her on her by photographs placed in the church, thus establishing closure of storylines.

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However, in European Cinema, the linear nature of the narrative is usually quite disrupted and the discourse of the film has no complete resolution.  This can be established by the film Les Quatre Cents Coups; a story about a young boy who through chance events finally runs away from his life.  At the end, we see the adolescent in a freeze frame shot (which in European cinema is a technical device favoured for portraying situations of an unresolved nature), where he stands at the sea's edge staring at the camera in a distant gaze. This portrays a completely unresolved ...

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