Tag Archives: Narrative

The Narrative of the Cinema and The American Classic Movies

Well, in this first post I will talk a little about the narrative of the cinema and then, I will do just an introduction about the American Classic movies.

The cinema, like all means of communication, presents a language which is realized through the narrative, even that in the beginning, it was believed that the cinema could have a lot of functions like: being a way of record, like historical record; being a new way of journalism or a new way for teaching, among others. However, over time, the movies had like main goal to tell us stories and made us to go to cinema just to hear them. So the cinema became itself at a real “storytelling machine”. According to Metz (2007), the most probable is that the characteristic of narrative is part of the cinema, it has in its root the characteristic of storytelling and, because of this, the narrative is present until today in the movies.

Since the beginning of cinema there were a lot of different schools, with their own characteristics and specificities. However, according to Rubens (2008), “it was the called American Classic Cinema the responsible by formation of film industry.” (RUBENS, 2008, online). It is important to stand out that the cinema appeared in the 19th century, in France, differed characteristically when arrived in USA. Machado (2009) comments that in Europe the cinema public was mostly of middle class, even that the cinema concept was wide-ranging, without restrictions for any spectator. On the other hand, in USA, the working class was the big spectator of this art, where developed aspects of a popular culture. Just later the cinema began to do part of middle class’s daily life in the North-American ambient.

The American Classic Cinema, dated by some critics being the period between the decades 30’s and 60’s, appeared in the context of First World War. Rubens (2008) tell us that “the European film production was affected and, in this period, Hollywood began to show up with its big studios […] and in the final of 20th century’s first decade came to leadership of global market.” (RUBENS, 2008, online). So Hollywood created a new production system: standardized the pellicle use (35 mm) to record the movies; created the system of film genres (comedy, drama, romance, etc.), each one with its own language; brought a bigger mobility and flexibility to use the camera, with innovations in its movements. Also brought some changes in the movies narratives, approaching the character to spectator: now the narrative has beginning, middle and end; the story is centered in the main character, who always has some conflict, usually solved in the movies end.

The blog “Cinema’s Basis” (2007), of Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, tell us the ideal film in the golden period of American cinema: “present stories that are of easy understanding and fascinating for public, through the Manichaeism and verisimilitude, in a way that contribute for the recognized of cinema like art.” (CINEMA’S BASIS, 2007, online). The blog still brings a quote of authors Francis Vanoye[1] and Anne Goliot-Lété[2] about this cinema period:

We proposed the term “transparency” to designate the specific quality in this kind of movies, where everything looks like develop itself without chocks, where all the plans and sequences are linked with, apparently, all the logic, where the story looks like be told by itself. (VANOYE; GOLIOT-LÉTÉ, 1997, p. 28).

Another characteristic that is very outstanding in the classic cinema is the music, that according to Rubens (2008), it was common that the movie plot was marked by the music, which permitted that the spectator could know what character should enter in scene. Besides that, in this golden period also appeared the phenomenon denominated like “Star System”, but this will be the subject of another post…

[1] Emeritus Professor in film studies in the Paris X Nanterre University, France. [2] Professor in the Denis-Diderot University, Paris, France. Both of them authors of the book “Essays About the Filmic Analysis”, 2008.



FUNDAMENTOS de Cinema [Cinema’s Basis]. Cinema Clássico Americano [American Classic Cinema]. Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul [Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul]. 2007. Available in: <http://www.chasqueweb.ufrgs.br/~miriam.rossini/class_her.html&gt;. Access in: Mar, 28th 2014.

MACHADO, Mariângela. A formação do espectador de cinema e a indústria cinematográfica norte-americana [The formation of cinema’s spectator and the North-american film industry].  Rio Grande do Sul: Sessões do Imaginário [Imaginary’s Sessions], 2009. Available in: <http://revistaseletronicas.pucrs.br/ojs/index.php/famecos/article/view/6475&gt;. Access in: Mar, 28th 2014.

METZ, Christian. A significação no cinema [The signification in the cinema]. Translated by Jean-Claude Bernardet. 2. ed. São Paulo: Perspectiva, 2007. Chapter 3.

RUBENS. A Época de Ouro de Hollywood [The Golden Era of Hollywood]. Cinema Clássico Americano [American Classic Cinema]. São Paulo: Blogger, 2008. Available in: <http://rubens-cinemaclassicoamericano.blogspot.com.br/&gt;. Access in: Mar, 28th 2014.