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A Decade Under the Influence (2003)

Cast: Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman, more...
Director: Ted Demme, Richard LaGravenese
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Docurama
Genre: Documentary, Film
Running Time: 180 min.
Languages: English
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In the late '60s, American culture experienced a period of change as the youth movement challenged conventional attitudes about politics, sex, drugs, and gender issues, while the advancement of the Vietnam War found many citizens questioning the actions and wisdom of their government for the first time. As American attitudes continued to evolve, so did the American film industry; as costly big-budget blockbusters nearly brought the major studios to the brink of collapse, smaller and more personal films such as Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider, and Five Easy Pieces demonstrated there was a ready audience for bold and challenging entertainment. As the '60s faded into the 1970s, American cinema moved into an exciting period of creativity and stylistic innovation, which led to such landmark films as The Godfather, MASH, The Last Picture Show, Shampoo, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Chinatown, and Taxi Driver, and new freedom for directors and screenwriters. Ironically, however, it was another pair of big-budget blockbusters directed by students of the new wave of filmmaking -- Jaws and Star Wars -- which brought the studios back to power and put an end to Hollywood's flirtation with offbeat creativity. A Decade Under the Influence is a documentary which explores the rise and fall of new American filmmaking in the 1970s, and features interviews with many of the key directors, screenwriters, and actors whose work typified the movement, including Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Roger Corman, Dennis Hopper, Jon Voight, and Julie Christie. A Decade Under the Influence received its world premier at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, and an expanded version of the film was later shown on the premium cable outlet The Independent Film Channel; the documentary was the final work of co-director Ted Demme, who died shortly before the film was completed. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Special Features:

  • Additional interview footage with Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, Sidney Lumet, Roy Scheider, and others
  • Filmmaker Bios

GreenCine Member Reviews

Gave Up After 30 Minutes by notrust August 3, 2006 - 6:53 AM PDT
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
I had high hopes for this one, since I generally like 70's cinema. However, I also have a rule when watching movies. I call it my "30 minute rule". If a movie fails to interest me after 30 minutes, it's time to bail out. The director has had his chance, and most likely has nothing else left in his bag of tricks with which to draw me into the movie.

While the cast of directors and stars was quite impressive, after 30 minutes they were still trying to explain to me that the 1960's were a time of change. Young people were protesting against the war in Vietnam and old ideas about how movies are made were being questioned and re-thought. OK, I get it!!! I'm not from another planet, I already knew this!

Maybe the target audience for this film is people born after the year 2000, or aliens from other galaxies. But as for me, all these talented people were lecturing me like I was 5 years old. Thumbs down for extreme condescension!

One for the ages... by chaosmind January 24, 2006 - 9:13 PM PST
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
As film documentaries go, this one's the tops. This is why cinephiles like us greencine'rs go to the movies. Really quickly, it should be noted that the 180-minute running time of this "film" constitutes three commercially-uninterrupted episodes of an Independant Film Channel documentary.

The MPAA came on the scene in the late sixties just as the studio system was floundering in the face of independant and foreign films and, most importantly, as the big budget blockbusters being put out for the mainstream american audiences began flopping big-time.

Was it Cassavetes in the States or Antonioni on the other side of the pond that pounded the first nail in the coffin? Was it Coppola or Scorcese, on this side, following in their footsteps that put the final nail in that coffin? Sadly, there was no final nail, as the double-whammy of Speilberg's Jaws and Lucas' Star Wars re-established blockbuster supremacy, and the industry focus on opening weekend dollar-counts. (Terry Gilliam's critical masterpiece and fiscal fiasco Brazil would cement this perception amongst the penny-pincers, but this is after the time-scope of this particular flick; it only cements, however, the central thesis of this doc.)

This film documents this turbulent almost-transitional period, when experimentation was not only not reviled, it was celebrated.

So what you should expect to see is a documentary of the incredible revolution in american 70's cinema, with a strong focus on the independants. A lot of focus is given to Easy Rider, Bogdanovich, Coppola and Scorcese. Transgressively-independant cinema, whether its John Waters, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and 42nd street "grindcore" films are given short-shrift.

Have you seen Easy Rider, the Conversation, Two-Lane Blacktop, Faces, Nashville, the Last Picture Show, Badlands, Mean Streets and Chinatown? Congratulations! Then you already have this film-hipster conventional view, but you would probably very much enjoy seeing the masters pontificate on what inspire them. If not, but more than a few of those titles are on your to-see list, you really owe yourself checking this sublime documentary out. (If not, then promptly get your mainstream-movie-watchin'-ass back to Blockbusters, you corporate whore!)

"When I say it's safe to surf this beach, it's safe to surf this beach!"
"You can't eat that corn, Maddy... that corn's green!"

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.02)
113 Votes
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