Thursday, August 22, 2013

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls - Peter Biskind


What is translated into French as 'the New Hollywood' was the wish of a young generation of directors to wrestle the creative power from the famous studio heads - Zanuck & co - and make a new kind of films, with "real people" instead of artificial stars like Rock Hudson and Doris Day.
This took place in the 1970s and ended, according to Biskind, with 'Star Wars' in 1977. 
(A New Dawn rose then, entailing all sorts of evils; Simpson & Bruckheimer with their 'Top Gun's, 'Flashdance's and subsequent pirates...)

Biskind provides a detailed account of the lives and films of a whole bunch of 1970s film-makers, only about half of which I was familiar with beforehand. That is my only problem with this book; there is just too much information and not enough structure. It was really hard to keep track of who was who.

Several interesting points are made, though!
For instance many of the prominent films of the 1970s actually castigated the liberal theories of the hippie era. Biskind quotes 'The Excorcist', where the single-mother family and the young girl's budding sexuality are severely reprimanded by single, male priests, while the psychologist is a huge failure, ending up hanging himself.

Also, Biskind points out that many of the directors en vogue had issues with their fathers, as well as with the studio heads, rendering paternity and patricide a recurrent motif in for example 'Star Wars', 'The Godfather', 'Taxi Driver' and 'Apocalypse Now'.

A good read. But a long one.

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