The decade that gave us;
Grease and many, many more…
At the end of the piece I will try ranking them, and trust me it was difficult, probably more difficult then choosing which of your kids to save in a sinking ship.
This is probably a highly contested and controversial statement, as anyone growing up in a particular decade will have a natural nostalgic affinity to it, and will defend its merits (whilst completely ignoring its faults) to the better death. So in that case I only have one thing to say to you, if when asked what the greatest decade of film is, and you give me the answer other than 1970’s, I officially have the rights to open up your skull and remove it, and subsequently sell it on EBay for the lowest prices, because obviously you don’t require it. But why so harsh, you might ask. Well the simple fact is your wrong, but don’t give me the “It’s subjective” rubbish, because through hours of painstaking research (in other words way too many hours spent watching films on my laptop) I have come to the conclusion, that I know for a fact that the 1970’s were the greatest decade is cinema history. And here’s 5 reasons way:
Films of the decade captured beautifully a pivotal decade in modern human history.
The 1970’s is rightly regarded as a pivotal turning point in the modern world we find ourselves in, it was this decade some of the most important social changes and event occurred, particularly the changes in the improvements of political and economic liberty of women, encapsulated by the election of Margret Thatcher as prime minster of Great Britain – the very first female of state of any western country at the time. Also the decade lead to the increase of level of the average Joe’s political awareness, which lead to great civil unrest, as there was ever mounting resilience to the Vietnam War. But that’s enough of the history lesson; here is where film comes in. These two particular events to emerge out of this decade out of a whole host others (1970’s was a very busy 9 year for humanity) have lead to some of the most thrilling and intelligent films ever made.
Out of the war in Vietnam emerged the likes of; Apocalypse now, Coming home and the Deer Hunter. The Vietnam was a devastating lost for the American people, thus shaking them down to the core and loss of indentify and confidence in their nation, but I believe one film in particular helped restore it – Apocalypse Now was and still is a brave and ambitious project, that Francis Ford Coppola masterminded from begin to the very end, in the midst of so much turmoil during the shoot, he was able to paint a sincere unflinching picture of the human condition and the obsessive and occasionally deprived nature of war. The film Apocalypse just shows you the power of film and how it can hold a honest mirror into the deepest darkest recesses of the humanity.
The second film to perfectly draw from all the changes of the decade was Riddles Scots Alien. As stated before, the 1970’s was a crucial time for women, a time of liberation, and nothing is more of a testimony of the female liberation, then the birth of one of the most kick ass women in history of women in film, a chick so bad ass, that makes all alien scum retract their testicals in fear, encase she rips them of and feeds it to them. Yes I’m talking about Sigourney Weaver and her seminal portrayal of Ellen Ripley- also just my luck that Alien just squeezed into the decade with a release of 1979. Ellen Ripley burst onto the scene in a period where there were very few leading women, and even more of rarity was leading women in SCI-FI or Action genre. So with a genre filled to the brim with explosions and machismo, it took a little none girl born and raised in Manhattan, to come onto the scene and turn a whole genre on its head – and damn! Was Alien a good film, my favourite sci-fi film behind 2001 Space odyssey and Planet of the Apes.
The birth of the modern day Blockbuster
The summer blockbuster has now become a staple in our everyday film consumption, every year people save up their hard earned money, in a anticipation of the preeminent summer blockbuster, maybe it’s the latest James Cameron, Spielberg, Jackson or Bay (he sucks as a director, but you can’t deny the guy makes money) film. But what is a summer blockbuster or a blockbuster of any type? Well that’s a film that generally has a big budget for start; let’s use James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ for arguments sake, well Avatar had a budget of 300 million dollar, which was and still is the biggest budget ever for a film, but it’s not just the budget that makes a film a blockbuster, it also needs; to be produced and distributed by a large studio such as Fox, well in Avatars case it was a multi collaboration between four different studios and investment groups – but that was just due to the fact the money required was so significant, and no studio in the right minds is going to give someone 300 million, but luckily for Avatar it made close to 3 billion dollars, which just happens to be another component of what is needed in a blockbuster. So for a film to be called blockbuster, you need big budget, studio backing, make lots of money adding to that you need a massive marketing complain, that fall short of taping a flyer advertising the film to the forehead of every; man, women and child. So all those ingredient culminated together equals a blockbuster.
But guess what amazing year, was the very first to start the blockbuster trend? Yes no prize for guessing, it was the 70’s, let me illiterate once more if you haven’t got the message – the 70’s was the greatest decade for film, like ever! So what film and director started it all off? Well that prize goes to a little known director named Steven Spielberg and the honour of being the first blockbuster film goes to..drum roll (queue drum roll- well at least you tap the desk) please .. It is – Jaws. Yes Jaws was officially regarded as the very first film to coin the term blockbuster. It was the summer of 75, and a little known director, with just $9 million in his back pocket had a little film called Jaws that he wanted everyone to see, of course it doesn’t take a genius to guess that the film that is called jaws, would be about a killer shark – but wait your wrong, it isn’t about just your average shark, no in fact it a giant killing machine shark! Ha never saw that coming did you. Well anyway to cut a long story short, Spielberg took that little known film, and with a clever marketing campaign, we was able to turn $9 million, into $450 million and became rich and successful, then he decided to release a little known film in 77 called Close Encounters of a Third Kind, which made$340 million from $20 million, then from there he became even more rich and successful then he was already. How nice for Spielberg.
The landscape of blockbuster in the 70’s wasn’t just dominated by Spielberg (And god damn! Did he dominate) but the summer of 78, spawned probably the most famous musical film in Grease. And is undeniably credited with the creation of the super star, we like to call Travolta, and cemented his status as a sex symbol, that would successfully carry him into the late 90’s – then of course old age does what it does to so many other people (cough, cough Al Pacino) and make them suck, but the 70’s are still the good days and the golden era, for all straight men who like to sing and dance, and wear far too tight of clothing – and that’s all because of Grease and to some extent, Saturday Night Fever, which also could have be considered to have emerged on the scene as blockbusters, but ultimately both helped to change the modern landscape of film for ever.
The brat pack
Luckily for us and for any generation after, the year of 1970’s brought about a new era of domination of both critical acclaim and box office smashes, of a so called rag-tag group known as the “the brat pack” this is the name coined by alumni of well adverse and film educated – both home and foreign, of well known Film Schools. The group consist of Martin Scorsese, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, these men between them have grossed close to 7 billion and garnered 3 academy awards for best directors. Although Martins had a better decade in the 80’s, the 70’s did spawn for him the amazing Taxi Driver, which perfectly encapsulates the feeling of isolation and loneliness that a person can experience, and how this empty feeling can sometimes lead to volatile actions. But this decade did help enforce Spielberg’s claim to being one of the greatest directors of all time (in my opinion he is number two behind Stanley Kubrick) with the like of Shindlers list, Saving Private Ryan and Jurassic park, Steven is one of the few directors able to blend critical acclaim and box office smash hits. And as you can see from before that this decade in particular spawned, for me the best and quintessential film in Spielberg’s, multifaceted arsenal of good films. But not to forget poor old Georgey, who won’t go down as one of the greatest, but most certainly would go down as the at least top 3 richest and most commercially successful, with a net worth of 4 billion, owed primarily to the space epic Star Wars, but I will go into more detail on it a little bit later – don’t worry, before you rip your hair out, it won’t be too long.
The greatest film of the last 60 years and the greatest film of its genre ever
Well the two following films probably don’t need much explanation, or much introduction, because honestly there isn’t much you can say about them that really haven’t been said before; The Godfarther, 72 winner of the Academy Award, and brought the director Francis Ford Coppola Best Director. Whilst at the time of its realise, it was regarded as the greatest film of all time, well certainly in the eyes of your average Joe, and for many year in the minds of your film buffs, but only until the turn of the century did they concede the fact that Citizen Kane was a finer picture, but for me anyway The Godfarther will still and always be the best film ever made.
And then you have The Exorcist, just writing the title, send shivers down my spine, the film is truly haunting, and is one of the few horror films to actually leave a puddle under my chair – it’s that scary! Which I’m not too embarrassed about admitting, as even Entertainment Weekly ranked the seminal film as the scariest of all time. So at least I can take solace in the fact I’m not the only one cradling myself behind the sofa anytime I hear the score. And don’t forget it is still the first and only horror film to be nominated for Best Picture.
Fun for the whole family
“”A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” there existed a film franchise like one never seen before, a franchise that will go on to be the holy bible to geeks everywhere, but wait such was the scale of this humongous behemoth, it didn’t just stay in the dark room of 30 year old nerd living in his mums basement, instead it crossed the fresh hold of just your average geeky SCI-FI film, and entered the world of super block buster’s, and spread across the globe, faster than the love child of the plague and the common cold. Going on to spawn a franchise worth 4 billion (and counting – as of 2015) and that’s just the films, couple that with cartoons and merchandising, the Star Wars franchise reaches close to a value of 30 billion dollars and can be credited for the launching of the career of a American Icon in Harrison ford – not bad for a film that started with a budget of just 6 million. Yes Star Wars is a film that as swiped the whole world, and caters to all four quadrants of audience, with iconic stars, ground breaking special effects and the greatest plot twist in modern cinema, Star Wars is a film that Appeals to the whole family; mum, dad and granddad – heck ever your toaster has a poster of R2-d2 at home on its wall. Star Wars burst into the scene in 1977, the brain child of George Lucas, who was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s ‘The Hidden Fortress’. Upon its release it was able gross almost 200 million dollars in America alone, and would go one to garner 10 Oscar nominations, winning 6 of them. So it’s not hard to see how Star Wars has become one of the those very few films to appeal to the whole family, with bright interesting characters, exciting plots and stunning use of colours, Star Wars was and still is a very entertaining watch.
Let paint the picture, the year was 1976 and a 31 year old had a script which took him just three days to write, but he wasn’t just content with a measly writing credit, he was adamant in the fact that he wanted to play as the lead, he was offered mine boggling figure to sell the script outright so that producer and execs could add a more recognisable lead – because let’s face it, the guy so strapped for cash, had to appear in a soft core porno, for a messily 200 bucks, just to make ends meet, then for the next few year he had the occasional lead role, in let’s just say, not the most fashionable of films, but mostly his body of work consisted of bit parts. Then when he was able to retain his place as the lead of the film – well the rest was history, the guys name was Sylvester Stallone, and the film was called ‘Rocky’, which went on to nominations for Best Actor and Best Screenplay at the 49 Academy Awards, making the Stallone the third man in history to be nominated for the two for the same film.
Your classical rags to riches story, is powerful and inspirational film that strikes a chord with so many of us, making it a film that the whole family can enjoy over and over again, well the first Rocky anyway, did I forget to mention that there were 5 sequels that all sucked, to the existent that they became a parody of themselves. But no matter how bad they get – and they do get bad, they will never distract from the genies and uplifting Rocky, rightly so the winner of Best Picture award.
So I hope I was able to knock some sense into the heads, of any silly billy’s that doubt the awesomeness of the 70’S decade, we learned that the decade gave us; films that were fun for the whole family, two of the greatest films in their genre, it gave us the brat pack, captured the prevalent issues of the decade – both realistically and artistically and too top is all off, the decade gave us the blockbuster. But still if you are not convinced, below is a list of the top ten film of the decade, which I would blame you If you thought it was a list of all time greatest – it’s a easy mistake to make, because god damn! The 70’s was a good decade for film. But I illiterate, below is not a list of all time greats, but a list of the top ten films between the years of 1970-179. And by the way it was probably the hardest list I have ever had to create: there is literally close to 30 films in the 70’s that could easily sneak into the top ten.
Top 10 best films of the decade
1. The Godfarther
2. The Godfarther 2
3. Annie Hall
4. Star Wars
6. Apocalypse Now
7. The Exorcist
9. One Flew Over the Coco’s Nest
The Deer Hunter
Saturday night fever
Close Encounter of a Third Kind
The French Connection
And a billion other films…