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Films on the Talkies and the Crisis of Hollywood

Films on the Talkies and the Crisis of Hollywood
Other Titles
영화 『선셋대로』(1950), 『사랑은 비를 타고』 (1952), 그리고『아티스트』(2011)에 나타난 초기 유성 영화와 할리우드의 위기
Issue Date
대학원 영어영문학과
이화여자대학교 대학원
본 논문은 <선셋대로 (Sunset Boulevard)> (1950), <사랑은 비를 타고 (Singin' in the Rain)> (1952), 그리고 <아티스트 (The Artist)> (2011), 세 영화를 중심으로, 자기반영적 영화들이 1920년대 후반부터 1930년대 초 사이 유성의 도입으로 인한 미국 할리우드 영화의 과도기와 위기를 표현하는 방식에 대해 연구하고자 한다. 위의 세 영화들이 무성영화에서 유성영화로 전환되던 초기 유성시대에 영화 제작사들이 직면했던 어려움들을 되돌아 본다는 점에서 의의가 있다. 각 영화의 제작 시기는 1950년대와 2000년대이며, 이 두 시기 또한 영화사가 텔레비전과 디지털 기술의 위협을 받는 중요한 과도기라는 점에서 유성의 도입 시기와 유사하다. 본고는 세 영화들이 할리우드 영화사가 겪어낸 가장 혁명적인 기술 발전, 즉 사운드의 도입을 되돌아봄으로써, 각 영화의 제작 시기에 영화사가 맞닥뜨린 텔레비전, 3D와 같은 최첨단 기술의 위협에 대한 해법을 강구하고 있다고 주장한다. 나아가, 본고는 세 영화의 이러한 재현 방식이 영화와 기술의 관계를 아우르는 문화적 논의로의 가치를 지니고 있음을 검토한다.;This thesis discusses the way in which the advent of sound during the late 1920s and early 1930s is represented in three films – Sunset Boulevard (1950), Singin' in the Rain (1952), and The Artist (2011). Produced respectively twenty to eighty years after Hollywood's transition to sound, the three films reflect the revolutionary period in Hollywood history, portraying the effects and the crisis sound brought to the film industry. However, it must be noted that these films also examine the crises that the film industry confronted at the very time of each film's production – the 1950s faced the threat of television, and the 2000s, the threat of digital technology. Critics have said that Sunset Boulevard and Singin' in the Rain echo the crisis in the 1950s by portraying the 1930s and indicate that the hard time will pass as it did in the 1930s. This study, however, aims to extend this line of interpretation by adding the recent film The Artist and expound the meaning behind the three films' reflection of Hollywood's transition to sound. By reading the films' reflection of new technologies, both in their past and present, this study suggests that these texts come together as an important cultural commentary on Hollywood's crises. The first chapter reviews the history of film with a focus on the major paradigm shifting transition relating to technology – sound, television, and digital technology. As the evolution of film is closely associated with the development of technology, it is crucial to review its significance in relation to film as an art form. This chapter introduces this issue of film technology and the three self-reflexive films that question the new technology of their time. The second chapter examines Sunset Boulevard's depiction of Hollywood's transition from silent to sound films. In the first part of this chapter, I will analyze director Billy Wilder's portrayal of the silent stars' bleak outcome due to the advent of sound and how his illustration forms an authentic reflection of this specific period. The second part of this chapter will further examine Wilder's intention of reflecting the effects of new technology in 1950. I will explain how Wilder's portrayal of Norma can be interpreted as an illustration of Hollywood itself during that time. The close reading of the director's intentions reveals that Sunset Boulevard is an imposition of the 1950s Hollywood's fate. The third chapter investigates the technological aspect of Hollywood's sound revolution in Singin' in the Rain. The first part of this chapter will examine the directors Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly's illustration of the challenges in adjusting to the new filmmaking environment. The second part of this chapter will look into the film's intention of reflecting the birth of the musical film genre and questioning the film industry's filmmaking ability in the 1950s. I will analyze the film's implication of the threat of television through reflecting the crisis of sound. As the film depicts the musical as a solution to the challenge of sound, I argue that it also suggests the same solution to the crisis of television. The fourth chapter will explore how The Artist recreates the introduction of Hollywood's new technology, sound. The first part of this chapter will look into how director Michel Hazanavicius pays homage to silent film stars. The second part of this chapter will analyze the implication behind the director's reflection of Hollywood's sound revolution nearly a century later. By reading the film's illustrative parodies of and allusion to past films, I read The Artist as an homage to film history. Additionally, the director's intention of making a silent film in the twenty-first century can be interpreted as a statement upon the crisis of digital technology. Compared to the trend of contemporary films, which constantly applies the latest technology, The Artist exemplifies the possibility of creating a successful feature without extensive use of technology. Thus, this chapter examines the director's intentions as a message to the exploitation of technology in the film industry during the twenty-first century. In conclusion, the three films in this study specifically recall Hollywood's transition to sound to make commentaries both on the past and the present. By reflecting past struggle with technology, each film questions the essence of filmmaking in the face of new technological developments. Therefore, these films come together as significant texts reading into the historical transformations of one of the world's greatest culture industries.
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