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Emergence Of Violence In American Cinema

1732 words - 7 pages

Cinematic violence has been in films since the start of movie making. From Orson Wells tearing up his estranged wives room in Citizen Kane to Anthony Perkins slicing up Vivian Leigh in Psycho, violence has always been present in film in one form or another. It was not until the late sixties and seventies that such visionaries as Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Sam Peckinpah, and William Friedken, to mention a few, came and put on film what was to become a trend in American cinema that would flourish until the present day. Graphic violence has become as important to film as the happy ending. The nineteen seventies was a time that filmmakers started to make extreme ...view middle of the document...

The filmmakers and the ratings boards however, do not always see eye to eye.The American Heritage Dictionary defines violence as; Physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing. This is a pattern for any film's alleged, "bad guy." It is the extreme which the "bad guy" uses this force that is the cause of so much public back-lash against filmmakers. This did not however deter them in achieving their visions.In 1969, Sam Peckinpah released his film, The Wild Bunch. William Holden and Ernest Borgnine starred in this bloody western that literally left the dirt streets on the screen stained with blood. The grim standoffs in this film let way for a flood of directors to try their hand at creating the horrors of life.The latter part of the Vietnam war brought a new type of violence to our screens, although this was not the movie screens, it was our television sets. Television was broadcasting terrifying footage of the carnage going on in the Vietnam conflict. This news coverage was also ending up in the hands of directors like Michael Cimino, Francis Ford Coppola, and Hal Ashby, all of whom made a film about the war experience or/and about the post-war experience. It was in fact a war for the men who fought in it as well as a war for the people back in the states. Thanks to Hanoi Jane we will also not forget about the people we were fighting against.The war was in effect a cinematic challenge. The filmmakers had to deal with a conflict for which the public was already familiar with. It took an American icon in the movie industry to pave the way for future films of the genre. John Wayne did The Green Berets in 1968, however this movie was nothing in the way of violence compared with it's seventies counterparts.Francis Ford Coppola's, Apocalypse Now opened in 1979 and it was an instant hit despite the extreme violence. A year previous, Michael Cimino's, The Deer Hunter was released and also did well at the box office despite a grueling scene in which two friends are forced by the Vietcong to a deadly game of Russian roulette. That film won three Oscars.We know however that war is violent, so what other genres need to include such violent subject matter? I like to look at violence as three separate categories.1. War Violence- could be gang or different nations, or for that matter could betwo different planets.2. Realistic Violence- basically anything that can realistically happen to you or I. Rape, murder, mugging, beating, etc.....3. Fantasy Violence- Luke Skywalker gets his arm cut off with a light saber, or Linda Blair's head spin in The Exorcist.The realistic type violence of the seventies was used often and used quite effectively. John Boorman's 1972 film, Deliverance, was a haunting look at a "buddy" film gone bad. The four business men were to run into the two "hicks from hell." Not only did this film have plenty of blood, but it also incorporated a sodomizing scene that had never before been put on the screen. This sound...

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