Why Study Film?
Whether for its influence on art, entertainment, or business, studying film is an important part of understanding the culture and history of any society from any period of time. In order to be a culturally literate and engaged citizen in today's world, we must be able to effectively read both modern and classic films. By doing so, we are able to explore the social, economic, and political contexts of any film and its nation of origin. Additionally, we obtain a clearer vision of the specific history, industrial context, and culture that led to the film's creation. Ultimately, studying film provides us with a stronger understanding of the power of film on all societies over the course of its brief, century-long history.
Why Study Film of the 1980's?
Throughout the history of American film, there have been countless directors and genres whose works have proven to be influential to both the world of cinema and the societal context of the United States as a whole. Charlie Chaplin’s multitude of silent comedies of the 1920's and 1930's introduced us to the method of using satirical films to make a statement about society. Orson Welles’ masterpiece, Citizen Kane (1941), revolutionized the way films were made, depicting cinema as an art rather than simply a commerce.
Films like these were not only influential to the world of cinema, but they also succeeded in providing a unique window into what American society was like at the times of their releases. Casablanca (1942), for instance, gives modern audiences insight to the growing anti-Isolationist mentality of Americans that spawned post attack on Pearl Harbor, just as M*A*S*H* (1970) and Apocalypse Now! (1979) shows us the strong, anti-war sentiments of the 60's and 70's counterculture.
Without a doubt, by studying the films of a certain decade, we are provided with a specific insight into the social, economic, political, and technological contexts/changes of that time period. By studying the 1980's, specifically, we are introduced to several influential changes to the American film world - thematically, technologically, finacially, and structurally. The 1980's saw the rise of the "blockbuster film", with the success of the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Back to the Future series, seeing films gross hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide. The decade also saw a change of pace in the teen film genre with the John Hughes renaissance, bringing to theaters something other than the overplayed, teen sex comedies. Overall, the films of the 1980's possessed distinct characteristics that effectively captured the uniquities of American culture and society at the time.