Storytelling in the New Hollywood: Understanding Classical Narrative Technique

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Harvard University Press, 1999 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 398 pages
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In a book as entertaining as it is enlightening, Kristin Thompson offers the first in-depth analysis of Hollywood's storytelling techniques and how they are used to make complex, easily comprehensible, entertaining films. She also takes on the myth that modern Hollywood films are based on a narrative system radically different from the one in use during the Golden Age of the studio system.

Drawing on a wide range of films from the 1920s to the 1990s--from Keaton's Our Hospitality to Casablanca to Terminator 2--Thompson explains such staples of narrative as the goal-oriented protagonist, the double plot-line, and dialogue hooks. She domonstrates that the "three-act structure," a concept widely used by practitioners and media commentators, fails to explain how Hollywood stories are put together.

Thompson then demonstrates in detail how classical narrative techniques work in ten box-office and critical successes made since the New Hollywood began in the 1970s: Tootsie, Back to the Future, The Silence of the Lambs, Groundhog Day, Desperately Seeking Susan, Amadeus, The Hunt for Red October, Parenthood, Alien, and Hannah and Her Sisters. In passing, she suggests reasons for the apparent slump in quality in Hollywood films of the 1990s. The results will be of interest to movie fans, scholars, and film practitioners alike.

 

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Storytelling in the new Hollywood: understanding classical narrative technique

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Thompson--coauthor of The Classical Hollywood Cinema--doesn't agree with current film historians who claim that a "post-classical" style (fragmentary scenes often built around spectacular stunts ... Read full review

Storytelling in the new Hollywood: understanding classical narrative technique

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Thompson--coauthor of The Classical Hollywood Cinema--doesn't agree with current film historians who claim that a "post-classical" style (fragmentary scenes often built around spectacular stunts ... Read full review

Contents

Modern Classicism
7
Tootsie
50
Back to the Future
77
The Silence of the Lambs
103
Groundhog Day
131
Desperately Seeking Susan
155
Amadeus
177
The Hunt for Red October
213
Alien
283
Hannah and Her Sisters
307
Hopes and Fears for Hollywood
335
APPENDIX A LargeScale Portions of Classical Films
355
APPENDIX B Bombs or What Makes Bad Films Bad?
363
Notes
369
Index
393
Copyright

Parenthood
248

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About the author (1999)

Kristin Thompson is an honorary fellow in the Communication Arts Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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