The studio system was dependent on the control of the operation, which alone could ensure the smooth flow of mass production, planned long-term according to genres, budgets and stars. By forcing the studios on behalf of antitrust law, to sell their stock rooms, the Supreme Court in 1948 signed the death warrant of this "system", when the advent of television and the exodus of middle classes to the suburbs began to seriously affect attendance.
In the same period, the technologies are developing very fast, and give the full measure of their capacity in the 1990s. These techniques, a bit like those deployed during the golden age of Hollywood and the beginning of its difficulties, always aim to improve the entertainment side of cinema to provide a radical experience of the senses, through the constant improvement the visual and auditory. After the appearance of stereophonic sound, Dolby, Dolby Digital and DTS are again improving the sound field and provide the cinema experience in the OR advantages over television, and literally immerse the viewer within the film.
On the other hand, the special effects have completely changed the cinematic landscape of the past decade, and allowed the film to explore new areas, allowing all kinds of scenes to a previously unimaginable degree of realism and cost is reduced ever, allowing their proliferation. Often, directors and producers were responsible for these developments: Digital Domain with James Cameron and George Lucas with ILM (Industrial Light and Magic). The latter will have waited sixteen years as the technology matures to finally complete the second trilogy of Star Wars.
The film has become in the twentieth century the art form most widespread, largely supplanting the painting and reading, theater and opera. Every year, billions of spectators flock to cinemas to spend time dreaming and get out of the ordinary. All classes are present, all ages, all nationalities. Common frame of reference, a place of exchange and learning, openness to other cultures, the film is more than just entertainment.
Indeed, and it is also an industry, an entertainment industry that requires huge resources for a work to be widely distributed. Millions of people around the world work for film. Production, distribution, exploitation, are the three pillars of a very capital intensive industry. An industry where competition is present, and where the race for best film to reach the widest audience has been based on the development of an economic sector where art and technology combine to provide an ever-changing spectacle.
American cinema, which we identify in this study in Hollywood, had from the start a business with logic as a constraint and objective. Better than any other country, the United States was able to make movies and dream objects of fascination, and the film industry is a party to conquer its audience in the United States first, then without any border as it does not limit its ambitions. The Motion Picture Association of America rules the world of cinema as a symbol of a country whose culture shapes the world for decades. Hollywood gives entertainment to the world as Rome offered the bread and circuses to its citizens.
However, this hegemony, like all hegemonies, is subject to suspicion and envy. American cinema has a global success that is matched only by criticism that it is subject. Fascination and repulsion are mixed in most individuals. The global public is fond of its blockbusters, but is still critical and aspires to a more diverse film and close to its culture. However, cinema is an industry that increasingly has a strong random from the prospects of success of its products. The conditions for a varied response to the needs cenacles are hardly an obstacle to an alternative film. That's why American cinema, despite its faults, has at least the strength that gives a very broad public and who knows what to expect when entering a theatre.
Far from being neutral film, the American blockbusters are often a reflection of the malaise, or, conversely, the confidence felt by American society at a given moment in its history. In the U.S., the 1970s were a period of deep questioning of the institutions. The Watergate had discredited the radical political class and the youth revolt came to power and extend social contestation of ethnic, sexual, etc.. Hollywood then reflects a sense of distrust of state structures: the golden age of film "paranoid" for Executive Action (1973) to the President's Men (1976), through Conversation (1973 ) and Three Days of the Condor (1975).
The police are represented as corrupt, politicians conspire with industry consortia to ensure their individual profit against the interest of citizens and journalists seeking to expose the corruptions are threatened. This questioning of the system, initially marked "left", is paradoxically accompanied the rise of ultra-conservative discourse Reagan.
The leader of the Republican Party will indeed exploit the paranoid distrust of the U.S. population. He called for a review of "Big Government" and "Big Business" in the name of America violated should reassert itself. On the screen, then appears a race of supermen. Alone against a corrupt world, their mission to restore order, doubling in some way the image that Reagan was trying to give the political arena. This is the time of Rambo (1982) or Robocop (1987), films in which the hero is played by an American citizen disillusioned by the institutions and to fight a corrupt representative.
In the 1990s, however, the United States seemed rejuvenated by the return of economic prosperity and overwhelming victory during the Gulf War. The sense of national unity restored, the enemy, and the movies were no longer an internal to the system, but outside it, it will be such aliens from Independence Day (1996). It is not a hero isolated and persecuted, as in the years 1970 and 1980, which will confront the enemy but the entire nation. We'll see on the screen of men and women of all ethnic backgrounds (WASP, blacks, latinos, etc.) And social (poor, rich, civil, military, politicians) work collectively - and sometimes even sacrifice - for the grandeur and independence of their country.
The paradox is that the ideology of "humanism" that can convey the solidarity between the various cultural groups is the place for expressing a bellicose speech. If America must come together in this film is to destroy a foreign nation (alien), evil and threatening the nation. All the action films of the period will not be as categorical but many convey the image of a nation fully welded face of adversity, even idealized, as in True Lies (1994) and The Peacemaker (1997).
But the early 2000 seems to mark a new direction. The country was again divided around the first highly contested election of George W. Bush, but after the second U.S. intervention in Iraq. Some financial affairs, such as the Enron scandal, also renewed the discrediting of the world of "Big Business". Therefore, the majority blockbusters reflect this concern: the comeback film paranoid. Films like Fight Club (1999), Matrix (1999), Minority Report (2001), X-Men 2 (2003) or even Revenge of the Sith (2005) give a picture of a corrupt political system, distorted by the thirst for power. In a general atmosphere of decay and end of the world, a small group of heroes, marginal and true to their ideals, struggling to survive in the midst of a seemingly universal madness. No doubt we can read the diffuse anxiety of a "clash of civilizations" that would put the world on fire and sword.( Bal, 1999)
American cinema has been able to develop the creative energy and industry that allowed it to quickly dominate the world. The characteristics of its films and the strategy of its firms can be criticized, but they are the keys to success that has never wavered. Hollywood is likely to remain much longer the capital of cinema world, not because it has usurped the title by dealings reprehensible, but because it is the model of a popular cinema and international film an entertainment, a model that is imitated abroad.