The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

’70s culture generates blockbuster film directors

By Lauren Gordon/ reporter

When looking at movies critically, one has to look at them as products of the culture they came from, NW students were told Oct. 28.

Ryan Ferguson, NW supplemental instruction coordinator, discussed the cultural and artistic forces driving the film industry in the 1970s. Ferguson said he is passionate about the topic because he earned a bachelor’s degree in radio, television and film as well as a Master of Fine Arts in documentary production, both from the University of North Texas.

“The biggest influencers on New Hollywood were the film school brats,” he said.

These directors, including Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Spielberg, were the first generation to go to film school. Ferguson said they were heavily influenced by international cinema as well as Hollywood history and directed movies like The Godfather, Jaws, and Star Wars that defined the post-classical era.

The 1970s culture “has all of this anti-establishment and anger that affects the movies,” he said.

Events like the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy and the Watergate scandal were leading to distrust in the government, Ferguson said. Directors could target the frustrations of viewers with unconventional movies.

“This is the cultural environment that these movies are being made in” he said.

The Godfather, released in 1972 by Coppola, is full of anti-heroes, features an unconventional cast and focuses on revenge. These are all things that would not have been allowed with the Hays Production Code of 1930, Ferguson said. Under this code, movies would have to adhere to certain moral standards, and the ’70s is when that code was challenged.

“What is a blockbuster?” Ferguson asked audience members.

NW student Emmanuel Ortiz responded, “A movie that’s really hyped and you go see it on opening day.”

“Yes, exactly!” Ferguson said.

Until the ’70s, films would travel to theaters across the country being shown in only one city at a time while today movies are shown on as many as 4,000 screens opening weekend. This created a cultural shift and created an event out of moviegoing, Ferguson said.

“A blockbuster is a cultural event or at least trying to be,” he said.

The new Star Wars movie is such a blockbuster that it’s a cultural event before it even releases. All of the major theater websites crashed from people buying tickets. This is quite different from when Gone With the Wind was in release at theaters across the U.S. It remained the highest-grossing movie until 2015 and has still sold the most tickets of all time.

“I want to fast-forward to 2015 to talk about a modern blockbuster,” Ferguson said.

Jurassic World released earlier this year is both a reboot of the original Jurassic Park and a sequel. These are both terms that did not exist in the ’70s, Ferguson said. It had a budget of $150 million compared to Star Wars with an $11 million budget. This is a stark contrast of movies released in the ’70s compared to 2015, he said.

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