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Classical hollywood cinema- - Essay Example

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Politics and Race in Classical Hollywood: Lumet’s 12 Angry Men (1957) Name Instructor Class 17 August 2013 Word Count: 2589 Classical Hollywood Cinema spans Hollywood films from the 1930s to 1940s, though other scholars assert that it extends up to the late 1950s (Cook and Bernick 1999, p.40; Schatz 1996, p.4)…
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Classical hollywood cinema-

Download file to see previous pages... Richard Maltby (2003, p.16) argued that “[a]nswers to questions about what Hollywood is for must be sought not only in its movies but also in the social, cultural and institutional contexts that surround it.” This essay focuses on one film from the classical Hollywood period, Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men (1957) to answer what classical Hollywood is. 12 Angry Men shows what Hollywood is, a medium for demonstrating real social issues about politics and race and striving to resolve them through the classic narrative structure and classic codes of Hollywood cinema that satisfy American aesthetic tastes and economic demands. Before proceeding to the arguments of this essay, a short overview of the film’s Hollywood context is provided. Hollywood history can be seen as being divided into two historical periods, the period of Old and New Hollywood (Schatz 1996, p.5). Auteur theory asserts that Old Hollywood pertains to films that directors make for their own tastes and needs, while New Hollywood criticises the studio system, the “dehumanizing, formulaic, profit-hungry machinery of Hollywood's studio-factories” (Schatz 1996, p.5). Hollywood, nevertheless, continues to be studio-driven through the studios’ provision of resources and networks to directors. Schatz (1996, p.12) asserts that Hollywood is for depicting real struggles for power to make decisions and to implement them in films, not collaboration. Hollywood history shows struggles for authority and influence, power struggles that affect jurors in 12 Angry Men too. Classical Hollywood cinema follows a certain classic narrative structure that has a realist narrative that is present in 12 Angry Men (1957), especially the manifestation of the politics of the time, including struggles for power and justice. The realist perspective of 12 Angry Men (1957) comes from its alignment with its historical political context. The main conflict in the film involves a teenager from a minority group in a low-income neighbourhood, which provides a space for exploring the politics of people regarding these disadvantaged sectors. The initial voting of the jurors suggest that majority of these characters do not reflect the true essence of what the criminal justice system should be- a system composed of rational individuals who will do everything it takes to deliberate the case and come up with a solid conviction. The beginning of the film shows the camera shot tilting upward to the roof of the court, demonstrating the ascendancy of justice that is blind to physical and other kinds of differences among people. Eleven of the jurors, however, demonstrate varying kinds of biases and indifference that question the essence of their democratic justice system. Juror#3 (Lee J. Cobb), for instance, is highly prejudiced against all teenagers and people from the slum. He assumes that because the boy is poor and a minority, he is most likely to commit crimes (12 Angry Men 1957). His bias indicates that even when the jury system is designed to uphold fairness for all, the jury is not always fair at all, and in this case, their lack of fairness can result to one kid’s death. The film does more than reveal the weaknesses of the jury system however, but says something about larger social issues. Cunningham (1986, p.112) believed that the film does not only criticise the jury system, but also the “American democratic process itself.” The initial attitudes of most of the jurors in the film counter what people may ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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