Recently, Quentin Tarantino teased a new project that would be set in the 1970s. According to The Playlist, Tarantino told an audience at a film festival in France that he is specifically researching the year 1970.
He was inspired by the book Pictures At A Revolution: Five Movies And The Birth Of The New Hollywood, which documents the “New Hollywood” wave of director-driven projects of the late 1960s to the first half of the 1970s. Films in this style include The Graduate,Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider, The Godfather, Three Days of the Condor, and Chinatown, among many others. Despite all these popular and critically lauded films, Tarantino noted that no one knew if these movies would be enough to support film studios.
“New Hollywood was *the* Hollywood and anything that even smacked of Old Hollywood was dead on arrival… the more I started going to the library and looking up newspaper articles of what it was like, I realized New Hollywood had won the revolution but whether it would survive wasn’t clear. Cinema had changed so drastically that Hollywood had alienated the family audience.”
“Society demanded it but that doesn’t mean that they supported it as a business model, and it made me realize that New Hollywood cinema from 1970-76 at the very least was actually more fragile than I thought it was. That experiment could have died in 1970.”
Although Tarantino gave no exact hints as to what the project would focus on, the implication seems to be that it will be about the very early days of New Hollywood and the uncertainty of its survival.
The Short Life, And Quick Death, of New Hollywood
SlashFilm writer Peter Sciretta notes the key aspect of the era was creative freedom, calling it “Hollywood’s artistic shift.”
“The 1970’s is a fascinating time for the film business, and many people look at it as the glory days when filmmakers were treated like artists who were given the reign to explore original and exciting ideas.”
Ultimately, the movement did begin to decline, with filmmaker Steven Spielberg doing the then-unusual move of adopting a pulp novel into a major studio production (Jaws). The result was a huge success, unseen since the days of massive studio control years earlier. A few years later, George Lucas would perform a similar feat, adapting the feel of the science-fiction serial films he watched on TV as a kid (Star Wars). The success of Star Wars began the era of blockbusters, movies designed to play in as many theaters as possible, all at once.
With the birth of the blockbuster, artistic integrity was again on the wane. The last gasp of New Hollywood came in the early 80s with Micheal Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate and Francis Ford Coppola’s One From The Heart, two financial flops that had gone massively over-budget in attempting to meet very niche artistic goals. The studios realized their money would be better invested in the new wave of genre blockbusters (sci-fi, action, etc.) than on films that were increasingly out-of-fashion. Like Tarantino notes, the New Hollywood style only lasted about six years in total.
Perhaps most intriguing for Tarantino fans, he declined to say whether this new project would be a new fiction film or something else altogether.
“Am I going to write a book? Maybe. Is it going to be a six-part podcast? Maybe. A feature documentary? Maybe. I’m figuring it out.”
Although this material has been covered in books before, it would be interesting to read Tarantino’s take on the subject. A podcast by the famously talkative moviemaker would be a delight as well. Tarantino’s flair for multiple storylines and flashbacks could be dynamic when applied to the documentary form. Frankly, any of these mediums sound like a worthwhile endeavor, especially given how clearly close the subject material is to Tarantino.
[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]