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Film Techniques in the 60s


    • Before the 1960s Hollywood films embraced an overly polished look: often shot in sound stages and with every aspect of the scene carefully controlled. In the 1960s, that method crumbled in favor of more spontaneous techniques. Filmmakers would often resort to improvised dialogue and shot scenes in outdoor locations where they couldn't entirely control what would happen. Examples include works like "Easy Rider" and "Blow Up," which benefited from a liveliness and spontaneity that came from their freeform technique.


    • Classic Hollywood films depended largely on plot: driven by the twists and turns of intricate narratives and exemplified by protagonists in pursuit of specific goals. In the 1960s, many filmmakers turned against that approach, creating films which soaked in environment and character rather than the dictates of a story. Examples include films like "2001"and "The Graduate." In so doing, they pointed out the artifice of earlier modes of filmmaking, and while not overly winking at the camera, at least attained a measure of self-referential knowledge.

    Sex and Violence

    • Perhaps the most notable cinematic development of the 1960s was the decline of the old Hays Production Code -- which strictly censored what could and could not appear onscreen -- in favor of a new ratings system that permitted greater amounts of sex and violence. The ratings system went into effect in 1968, with the lettered ratings ("G," "PG," "R," and so on) that films still use in the 21st century. That permitted bolder and more daring content to emerge; famously, in the movie "Bonnie and Clyde" which ended with the brutal and graphic deaths of its two protagonists.

    Free-Form Editing

    • Classic Hollywood constructed its films based on a series of very strict rules. For example, editing cuts needed to move the position of the camera at least 30 degrees from one shot to the next in order to better establish the space of the drama and keep the audience from becoming confused. In the 1960s, those rules began to fade, leading to deliberate "jump cuts" which jarred -- and energized -- the audience in ways that older films couldn't.

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