Undoubtedly Hollywood is a major player in the industry, but how has it become so? Michael Richardson reviews the issues of Hollywood cinema and outlines some interesting aspects as to how Hollywood has become a leading player in the industry.
Michael Richardson first discusses how Hollywood was established. He explains that the movie industry in America was first formed in California after World War one, the formulation of films released by Hollywood illustrated the life America had to offer. As Richardson puts it, ‘through the films of Hollywood people outside of the United States have come to identify themselves in a concrete way with the concept that is ‘America’.’ (2010: 1) In other words, the films produced by Hollywood indulged its foreign audience with the alluring myth of the lifestyle it had to offer. To a world audience this helped in endorsing the dream of life in the US. This introduction from Richardson outlines a critical point in that Hollywood established this cultural ideal to the world.
Richardson goes on to discuss how Hollywood was set up predominantly by Jewish immigrants and that it was these immigrants that invented the myth of the American Dream, as Richardson explains, ‘Most of these who founded Hollywood were Jewish, generally second- generation immigrants from Eastern Europe. Hollywood cinema is this paradoxical, as paradoxical as the concept of America itself.’ (2010: 3) In essence Richardson suggests that it was the Jewish moguls who invented the myth of the American lifestyle that inspires other communities around the world of the life they desire. The desire of life in America is apparent from the many people who travelled there in search of a new life, as Richardson explains, ‘many of the greatest figures in Hollywood history have been European immigrants or film makers lured from Europe by Hollywood glamour and prestige or by political pressures at home, especially in the crucial decade before the Second World War when realities in Europe forced many people in the industry to seek work elsewhere.’ (2010: 3)
The events of World War I had significantly damaged the progress of European cinema, yet helped sustain a progressive success of Hollywood films, Edward Buscombe explains, ‘Foreign markets have always been important to Hollywood, at least since World War I when the US film industry capitalized on the weakness of European cinema to edge French, Scandinavian, German and British films out of the markets they had previously enjoyed.’ (2003: 28) The weakness of the European market led an opportunity for Hollywood to succeed. Tino Balio shares a similar view as he explains, ‘foreign revenues regularly generated about one-third of Hollywood’s total income until World War II cut off most European… markets, but afterwards, Hollywood set about recapturing lost territories by releasing the tremendous backlog of pictures it had produced during the war.’ (2007: 49) Although wars distracted from reaching the wider market Hollywood was still able to regain success from a financial standpoint. This raises another important point in the economic dominance Hollywood holds.
Overall from this brief overview of how Hollywood has claimed its dominance it is clear that Hollywood’s authority has been inspired by the creation of myth, the American Dream is a trait in many American movies that interests the global audience who believe in the desire of living in America, as it promises a lifestyle stylised by the movies. Also another way in which Hollywood has encouraged its success is through seeking opportunities to reach a global market. Whilst other countries struggled to regain a sense of normality as a result of the war, Hollywood was able to benefit financially. The economic strength of the America film industry is thankful to the success within global markets, as outlined above the international market is where America receives a substantial amount of its income. All these factors contribute to the overpowering strength of America’s film industry.
Balio, T. (2007). Postwar globalisation. In: Cook, P The Cinema Book. 3rd ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Buscombe, E (2003). Cinema Today. London: Phaidon Press Limited.
Richardson, M (2010). Otherness in Hollywood Cinema. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.