7 Great Film Movements that Have Changed Cinema Since its Inception | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

7 Great Film Movements that Have Changed Cinema Since its Inception

The birth of cinema is truly one of the most monumental and revolutionary periods in history. When the Lumière brothers pioneered technology and discovered a way to produce films for mass audiences in 1895, the world was introduced to a new art form that shaped cultures, norms, political movements, and the society that we are living in today.

Cinema became a powerful medium not only to entertain people but also an avenue to let their voices be heard to induce positive change and uplift oppressed people’s lives during challenging times. As more global artists emerged and experimented with cinematic techniques, it gave rise to pop culture and movements that gave films their unique and distinct identity and style that heavily influenced the kind of cinema we are privileged to enjoy in the present.

The Film Movements


German Expressionism

When the German government banned foreign films in Germany during World War I due to propagandism, it gave Germans the opportunity to create their own industry and explore their own artistic capabilities in the world of cinema. With limited resources, filmmakers were able to utilize the available technology at that time to tell stories that reflected the kind of grim reality they were living in. People also resorted to films to escape the depressing reality of their war-ridden country, which generated more interest in the art form.

Films in this era were characterized by using high-contrast lighting, deep shadows, unrealistic or surrealistic production design and set decorations, traumatic music, and extreme camera angles. Narratives and their themes revolved around violence, mental illness, crimes, horror, and crisis that exemplified the inner struggles, fear, and conflicts that mirrored the society they were in at that time. Prominent films that came out of this movement include The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Nosferatu (1922), Metropolis (1927), Psycho (1960), and Tim Burton’s films.

Soviet Montage

Originating from Russia, Soviet Montage is a fundamental movement that brought forth an important and widely used editing technique known as a montage. A montage is a process of putting a series of shots together that work to show the passage of time and reveal information that helps move the story forward. Director Lev Kuleshov presented this montage concept known as The Kuleshov Effect, which implies that two sequential images have more impact and meaning than a single image. This gives more depth and context to the action in the scene.

Soviet cinema is characterized by its aggressive editing style, graphic and violent narrative, the absence of close-ups as well as every shot’s composition must have an important meaning and the story must have multiple protagonists. During this era, stories focused on the proletarians, everyday life, reality, and partisans. Notable films under this movement are Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1925) and Strike (1925) as well as Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979).

Classical Hollywood Cinema

Hollywood, as we know it today, is the entertainment capital of the world. This movement is also known as the Golden Age of Hollywood, which became the most powerful and universal visual style of filmmaking that most successful films are based upon. In the classical era of Hollywood, the mode of production was based on the studio and star system. Some of the biggest names that dominated this time were Marilyn Monroe, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Clark Gable, Marlon Brando, and James Dean.

What sets this style apart is the use of snappy and artificial dialogs, theatrical and unnaturalistic performances, character persona was active, likable, and goal-oriented, conflict with other characters or the circumstances they’re in, the editing was smooth and continuous with clarity, and the 3-point lighting system was utilized to create flattering images. Films that dominated this period were Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night (1934) and Howard Hawk’s Bringing Up Baby (1949).

Italian Neorealism

This is easily known as one of the most influential movements in film history. It deviated from the Hollywood style of cinema to focus more on narratives and characters that are realistic and honest portrayals of the life, struggles, and world we live in. Italian filmmakers revolutionized this style by systematically hiring non-professional actors to portray reality as authentic as possible as well as using locations as one of the “characters” to deepen the narrative. This period brought us timeless filmmakers such as Federico Fellini, Vittorio De Sica, and Roberto Rosellini as well as films such as Bicycle Thieves (1948), and Rome, Open City (1945).

French New Wave

A group of film critics of Cahiers du cinema who were keen to transform cinema as an intellectual art form of the same caliber and superiority as literature and traditional art paved the way for this new style of filmmaking. Remarkable French filmmakers and critics such as Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Claude Chabrol, and Éric Rohmer echoed this sentiment. This was later coined as the Auteur theory, a principle that puts the director’s unique style and vision at the forefront of one’s masterpiece. Stylized camera pans and angles as well as jump cuts were first used by filmmakers during this period. Famed films include 400 Blows (1959), Breathless (1960), Jules and Jim (1962), and Le Mépris (1963).

Cinéma Vérite

Cinéma Vérite is a French term that exactly means truthful cinema, which was founded by Edgar Morin and Jean Rouch. This style widely refers to the world of documentary filmmaking wherein filmmakers observed and captured the real and authentic lives, conversations, environments, and situations of their subjects using limited equipment to naturally encapsulate their exact reality. Important films of this movement were Chronicle of a Summer (1961), Grey Gardens (1975), Paris Is Burning (1990), and Hoop Dreams (1994).

Dogme 95

Danish directors Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg were the brains behind this movement. As a response to their disapproval of the studio system, the filmmakers wrote a manifesto and the “Vow of Chastity” that contains a set of rules or criteria that will determine whether a film belongs to this movement. Films in this period focused on the essence of traditional storytelling, acting, and themes versus the commercial spectacles and special effects that the studio system heavily uses. This gave independent filmmakers the chance to get creative with the limited budget and resources they have and let their vision, story, and characters shine. Distinguished films during this time were The Idiots (1998) and The Celebration (1998).

This is by no means is an exhaustive list, but knowing these major film movements will help us better understand the artistic choices and inspiration behind the films we love, especially from famed post-modern directors such as Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson, Coen Brothers, David Lynch, and Paul Thomas Anderson to name a few. It’s worth noting that some of these film movements were established in the midst of great tragedy and oppression, which shows that art and films have the power to give solace, spark change, and unite people, especially in times of adversity.

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

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