World Cinema – Part 1: Crash Course Film History #14

World Cinema – Part 1: Crash Course Film History #14


News flash: the world’s a big place. WHAT!?!?! Huh! And humans have been making films in almost
every corner of it for more than a hundred years. While Hollywood dominated the global film
market in its first six or seven decades, lots of profoundly influential film movements
arose all over the world. Now, there’s way too much to cover in just
two videos. But, hopefully, these overviews will inspire
you to explore more on your own. To start, let’s look at a few key movements
and filmmakers throughout Asia that were born out of intense political change and had a
lasting impact on world cinema. [Intro Music Plays] During the 1930s, the Japanese government placed stringent controls over domestic film
production through its Ministry of Propaganda. They censored content that didn’t uphold
the values of the Imperial government, and promoted movies that celebrated the Japanese
military. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Ministry
of Propaganda borrowed a page from the Nazi playbook and actually took over the country’s
ten largest film studios. Then, they consolidated these studios into
two main production companies and forced them to make pro-war movies. Now, real battle footage from the Pacific
was hard to come by, so these wartime Japanese filmmakers got really good at creating special
effects. And that experience would come in handy after
the war, when they were given more artistic freedom. Yasujiro Ozu is widely acknowledged
as one of the masters of classical Japanese cinema, a period that stretched from 1926
to the 1950s. Ozu began his career making quiet, humanistic
films about family relationships and intergenerational conflicts. He grew up admiring American studio films,
especially those by Ernst Lubitsch and D.W. Griffith. Ozu’s first film to achieve wide acclaim
was a comedy called I Was Born, But…. The film follows a pair of brothers who lose
faith in their father when they discover he’s not standing up to his boss. A lot of Ozu movies embed this kind of gentle
social critique into their very personal stories. Aesthetically, Ozu is known for his long,
wide shots that allow entire scenes to play out, sometimes very slowly. This is often considered to be a reflection
of the power of ritual in traditional Japanese life. He also innovated the use of offscreen space,
having characters exit the frame for surprisingly long periods of time, and letting the camera
linger on the now-empty space. These moments echo certain Zen aesthetics
about emptiness and patience. And they root Ozu’s films in ancient Japanese
customs and beliefs, even though his stories take place in what was then the present day. After the war, Ozu went on to make three masterpieces:
Late Spring, Early Summer, and his most famous film, Tokyo Story. Now, the end of the war brought profound changes
to the Japanese film industry. Much of the country was scarred, both physically
and psychologically, having suffered a massive firebombing campaign and atomic explosions
at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One kind of postwar Japanese cinema dealt
with the aftermath of these atomic bombs in very direct, explicit ways. It’s impossible to watch Ishiro Honda’s
1954 film Godzilla and not see the parable underneath the sci-fi monster movie. …and also not try to mimic Godzilla’s noise. Craig: ahhhh… ahhhh
Nick: You’re not doing a very good job. No, I’m not doing a very good job. The creature is unleashed by careless atomic explosions, and the human characters spend
the movie wrestling with the potentially apocalyptic consequences of scientific research. Godzilla and its sequels also show off the
sophistication of the Japanese special effects industry, as all that work during the war
was now beginning to pay off. After the war, General Douglas MacArthur led
the American Occupation forces which oversaw the “democratization” of Japan from 1945
to 1952. And this brought a new kind of censorship
to Japanese films. They were forbidden from glorifying imperialism,
feudalism, and militarism. The Occupation forces rounded up and destroyed
hundreds of films that were deemed anti-democratic. Under the Occupation, the state-run film companies
were broken up to foster competition, and filmmakers were encouraged to make movies
that celebrated democratic values and personal freedoms. One filmmaker who flourished in this postwar
period was Akira Kurosawa, who would go on to become one of the most influential filmmakers
in the history of cinema. For real. He’s a big deal. Kurosawa became an international star with
his 1951 revolutionary film Rashomon. It tells the story of the murder of a samurai
warrior through the eyes of four unreliable narrators. We see the events of the film four times,
each time from a different point of view. And the film never tells us which version
of events actually happened. Kurosawa seems to imply that truth and reality
are subjective, in both cinema and life, and that our only hope is to be as good to one
another as we possibly can. YA, NICK! Unlike Ozu, Kurosawa kept his camera moving, a style he would bring to many of his later
samurai films. And he was often borrowing stories from other
cultures. His samurai movie Yojimbo was based on an
American detective novel by Dashiell Hammett. Throne of Blood was a Japanese re-telling
of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. And he used King Lear as the basis for his
samurai epic Ran. In turn, Kurosawa inspired many foreign films
based on his work. George Lucas famously lifted elements of
Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress for the first Star Wars film. And Kurosawa’s masterpiece Seven Samurai
has been remade twice in the United States as The Magnificent Seven. I guess that makes it the “Magnificent Fourteen.” *giggle* From anime to horror and period dramas to
Kaiju films, stories from the Japanese movie industry continue to resonate around the globe. Now, in mainland China, the film industry
also underwent some significant changes because of political pressures. The first domestic films emerged in 1905. And within five years, a stable industry began
to form, starting in Shanghai and spreading to other coastal cities. Sound was introduced in 1929 and China’s
film industry continued to grow, until the Japanese invaded in 1937, occupied Shanghai,
and shut down domestic production until the end of the war. When Mao Zedong’s Communist Party took over
the country in 1949, they placed control of film production under the Minister of Culture. During the 1950s, the Chinese government built
a dozen major film studios throughout the country and produced a lot of pro-Communist
films. In the early 1960s, the government censors
relaxed enough to allow film adaptations of several operas and novels. Before this, works like Su Li’s Third Sister
Liu and Early Spring in February by Xie Tieli would have been considered too bourgeois to
produce. Then in 1966 came the Cultural Revolution,
a violent, decade-long purge of most cultural and economic institutions in China. Professionals of all kinds, including filmmakers,
were driven from their jobs and homes by the Chinese government, and sent off to be “re-educated”
in the countryside. As a result, film production came to a halt
in 1967 and wouldn’t resume for another three years. And even then, only amateur filmmakers were
allowed to make movies at first. Eventually, through fits and starts, professional
filmmakers emerged from their re-education camps or graduated from new film schools and
began making movies again. One of the most notable directors from mainland
China is Zhang Yimou. His first film, the sumptuously shot Red Sorghum,
won the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 1987. Known for his striking visuals and painterly
style, Zhang made several notable martial arts films in the early 2000s – movies like
Hero and House of Flying Daggers – before overseeing the Opening Ceremonies for the
Beijing Olympics in 2008. Zhang has even worked with American movie
stars. Matt Damon and Willem Dafoe play lead roles
in his 2017 film The Great Wall. This collaboration may be the first of many,
since well-financed Chinese production companies have begun to partner with American studios
to make films for audiences in both countries and beyond. Outside of mainland China, Hong Kong has a
long tradition of kung fu and swordplay films. I just kung fu’d the eagle. Its film industry elevated these violent genres
to art in the 1960s and ‘70s, through precisely choreographed action and rapid editing. Figures like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan popularized
this authentic martial arts cinema outside Hong Kong. And directors like John Woo even went on to
make blockbusters within the American studio system – films like Face/Off and Mission:
Impossible II. Wong Kar-wai is another superstar director
from the Hong Kong film industry. His elliptical, post-modern films often examine
unrequited love and the deep interior lives of their characters. From the dreamlike lyricism of In the Mood
for Love, to the martial arts grandeur of The Grand Master, his films have had a profound
influence on filmmakers throughout the world. As big as China and Hong Kong loom on the
world stage, the largest film industry in the world is located in India. All told, the country produces eight- to nine-hundred
movies a year, roughly a quarter of the world’s films. So India had a growing film industry under
British Colonial Rule in the early part of the 20th century, prior to winning their independence. They ran into trouble, though, when sound
film arrived. Because India makes films in more than sixteen
languages! When you hear the term Bollywood, for instance,
that refers to film production centered in Bombay. These Hindi-language films make up 25 percent
of Indian cinema. Bengali-language film production occurs mostly
in Calcutta, while facilities in Madras produce Tamil-, Kannada-, and Telugu- language films. Despite the language differences, what unifies
most Indian films is their style. Most Indian cinema consists of lavish musicals
or mythological romances, all following relatively strict formulas. For the musicals, the saying goes, all you
need is “a star, six songs, and three dances.” The Indian star system actually resembles
the American studio era of the 1930s. Actors are chosen and groomed by the film
studios, and plugged into movies built around their personas. Now, the most profitable movie ever produced
in India is Ramesh Sippy’s 1975 film Sholay. It’s an action-adventure film heavily influenced
by Hollywood westerns, but also has its share of over-the-top song-and-dance numbers. The film was so popular when it was released
that it ran continuously in movie theaters for five years! I can’t even hold a job for five years. Meanwhile, the universally-acknowledged master of Indian cinema was Satyajit Ray, whose style
was different than most Indian films. After studying as a painter, Ray found his
filmmaking inspiration in Italian Neo-Realism, especially Vittorio De Sica’s classic The
Bicycle Thieves, the intimate story of a father and son struggling to survive poverty in post-war
Italy. In 1955, Ray made his first film, The Song
of the Road, which tells the story of a young Bengali boy coming of age. Unlike the spectacle of most Indian cinema,
Ray’s film focuses on the emotions of its fully-realized characters, and intimate moments
of everyday life. The film became a surprise international hit
and won the Jury Prize at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival. In his next two films, 1957’s The Unvanquished
and 1959’s The World of Apu, Ray continued to follow the main character from his first
film as he matured into adolescence. These three films together are known as the
“Apu Trilogy” and cemented Ray’s international reputation and low-key, contemplative style. Indian cinema is more than just fun Bollywood spectacle. It’s a multifaceted film industry that,
along with all these Asian film cultures, has profoundly shaped modern filmmaking today
and for generations to come. Today, we talked about post-war Japanese cinema
from Kurosawa’s samurai to Hondo’s Godzilla. We scratched the surface of Chinese cinema,
from mainland epics to the martial arts film traditions of Hong Kong. And we looked at India, home to the largest
film industry in the world. Next time, we’ll tackle indigenous cinema
from Africa and Latin America, to maverick filmmakers in the Middle East. Crash Course Film History is produced in association
with PBS Digital Studios. You can head over to their channel to check
out a playlist of their latest amazing shows, like Eons, Coma Niddy, and PBS Space Time. This episode of Crash Course was filmed in
the Doctor Cheryl C. Kinney Crash Course Studio with the help of these ministers of propaganda and our
amazing graphics team is Thought Cafe.

100 thoughts on “World Cinema – Part 1: Crash Course Film History #14

  1. Great episode, but ouch! Bombay? Really? Even though it's technically still used, the city has been officially known as Mumbai since 1995. Not a huge mistake but a bit of a cultural faux pas. Couldn't you have just said "in Bombay, now called Mumbai".

  2. Wong Kar Wai & John Wu!!! Two examples of the best directors in the world. Did Lucas and Spielberg flew off to JP and fronted Kurosawa 💴💵💰💶💷💰💰💰 when Kurosawa's own studio ran out of money?

  3. I assume next we will travel down to Nollywood and other African films. Although, they are for the most part, largely immature compared to other systems – doesn't mean they don't exist. Don't let me down Crash Course.

  4. I watched an Indian movie called DDLJ, allegedly is been on the Mumbai theater for more than 20 years, because of a previous job I learn that was the favorite movie of many many Indians so I look it up

  5. Hi crash course. I'm heading off to the army but I'm a little short at the moment. Please could you do a video on HGH ? I'd really appreciate it and it'd be pretty interesting to talk about human augmentation

  6. "The occupation forces rounded up and destroyed hundreds of films that were deemed anti-democratic. […] film companies were encouraged to make films that celebrated democratic values and personal freedom."

    Oh, the irony. I guess the "freedom of speech is only for people who agree with my values" has been a thing for a long time. 😛

  7. It's extremely americano and euro centric to name anything that doesn't come from the West, "world cinema".

    I grew up watching Indian movies and didn't even pay attention to western cinema till my late teen years.

    For most of the world, western cinema is "world cinema"

  8. That was an awfully miniscule amount of time for an industry producing a quarter of the world's movies, mate! I get the overall paucity of time but even with this video, the Indian film industry got the least time! Would've loved to hear some more about them and the masterpieces they have produced.

  9. So Indian movie recommendations (all Hindi I'm afraid, I'm not well acquainted with the other industries that well) –

    Shahid – true story of a lawyer with a troublesome past, whose journey through injustice led him to fight for justice

    Haider – A brilliant interpretation of Hamlet, based in the the tragic and humanitarian crisis of Kashmir

    Rang De Basanti – A cult classic in India, which traces the life of a group of carefree youngsters realising that if a country has to be changed, it has to come from the regular people

    Devdas – it is a musical so may not appeal to everyone, but it some of the best acting you'll see by the top stars alongwith a lavish setting and beautiful sets and just very grand

    Aligarh – traces the tragic story of a gay professor in the city of Aligarh in India. I can guarantee you that you'll find it hard to think of an acting job done better than what Manoj Vajpayee did in this movie.

    Munnabhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munnabhai, 3 Idiots, PK – light hearted comedy by Raju Hirani, usually with a great message but never overbearing. Great watches, all of them

    Angry Indian Goddesses and Parched – strong female oriented movies, one with a highly urban setting and one in a rural village. Very strong movies and highly relatable but yet stories you'll remember for long.

    You can start with these and discover more. Indian film industry is really vibrant and produces such diversity of movies, no matter what you like, you'll find something for yourself!

  10. This )and CC Philosophy, and Mythology) are the best in the Crash Course series, I love seeing theses videos pop up in my feed.

  11. I hope next episode covers Egyptian cinema it would be a shame not to cover the biggest Arabic speaking film production industry.

  12. why do americans call anything not american 'world ___'? No other country does this… It's history, not 'world history' and 'american history'.

  13. pooff. Running through Asia and having to skip South Korean cinema is difficult, but understandable.
    I'd argue that early 2000s Hollywood action cinema was greatly influenced By films like “Sympathy for Mister Vengeance” and "Oldboy"

  14. Yasujiro Ozu is quite possibly my favorite director and has been a HUGE influence on my films and my filmmaking style. A lot of things that people dig about them I often have stolen directly from him. Y'all should check out my films if you want to see what I'm talking about, specifically Jimmy The Limo Driver

  15. "The world of a poo". Lolololol he said poo! HE SAID POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  16. Sorry to say so but Indian and American movies suck. The only real good movies are Japanese. And there is the south Korean exception. You know very little about cinema. But this is not surprising, since you only watch US BS.

  17. I really hope you guys do a crash course on animation. There's too much of it to cover in this series. A series on television would be awesome too.

  18. Indian Bollywood: Dance and songs.
    Crash course, I thought you guys will break The stereotype, but on the contrary cemented it. Disappointed. Indian films are way more​ than those pettyassed Bollywood films. :((((

  19. I don't like Indian films much, but I do like bangra music which comes from them. Got a bangra dance workout DVD and that is fun. I owe India for making working out more fun, with that and yoga. 🙂

  20. I m so much hurt to see this.
    Indian movies are given such a non realistic cinema figure. It was so in the earlier times but now it has evolved so much.
    Saying these things abt Indian movies is like saying Hollywood is all abt cowboy films.

  21. Woo-hoo! Yasujiro Ozu is conceivably among the top 3 directors of ALL TIME for me! His movies–wow, even 70 years later they make me cry. And I don't understand a lick of Japanese and these movies are in black and white. They're sooooo good, especially "Tokyo Story"!!!

  22. "The occupation forces rounded up and destroyed hundreds of films that were deemed anti-democratic."
    I hope I'm not the only one that sees the irony in that.

  23. It's so great to hear about how different places' cinema have developed, and I would love to see more in-depth discussions of each of these. Also, I know it's hard to pronounce Chinese names, but can you guys at least make a bit of an effort and not just make wild guesses that sound nothing like the actual pronunciation?

  24. George Lucas borrowed "elements" of 隠し砦の三悪人 (The Hidden Fortress)?? Everyone who has seen 隠し砦の三悪人 and Star Wars knows that plot, characters, settings and even music are copied with great detail. He "borrowed" a LOT of elements!

  25. Crash Course Animation please! You HAVE to talk about animation if you are talking about film, especially Japanese Animation when you talk Japanese Film.

  26. @CrashCourse Craig, you were wrong about one thing when you spoke of Indian Cinema. The region that makes Tamil, Kannada and Telugu films is called South India, and is collectively called South Indian Cinema. Calling the region Madras is outdated and now it is even considered as a racial stereotype here in India.

  27. A little disappointed Miyazaki didn’t get a nod— Hollywood directors have praised his films and Pixar considers them their biggest early influence.

  28. Those are not Zhang's best regarded films! If someone followed your recommendations as an intro to Zhang's work, they'd be very disappointed.

    Imagine if I introduced Shyamalan to someone and only mentioned The Village and The Last Airbender. (Not trying to equate the two directors at all. Just trying to make a point about filmography.)

  29. Unrequited love is not the central theme featured in Wong Kar-wai's body of work. It is the central theme of his most famous film, In the Mode for Love.

    His body of work primarily examines the themes of desire, isolation and memories. Unrequited love fits with those themes but does not embody the. All black horses are horses, but not all horses are black. Just because it is a theme featured in one film, does not mean the same theme is central to all of the director's films. Please do your research better.

  30. You guys need to do more research about Indian cinema. And also Satyajit Ray is as big a giant of world cinema as Kurosawa. Both have won Oscars for lifetime achievement.

  31. that coverage of Indian cinema was SAD- shame on you crash course. I expected better from your so called inclusive asses

  32. Korean cinema is pretty good now. They seem to have a lot of art house directors. They just lack the long (and notable) history of film making.

  33. Apart from the mention of the works of Satyajit Ray, India cinema seems to be grossly generalized in this video. Indian cinema today, while still adhering (for the most part) to the formulaic film-making techniques of the past century, has incorporated fresh techniques of storytelling highlighting Indian society and its perks and pitfalls. That is modern Indian cinema.

  34. I'm so pleased you guys focused this episode on non-hollywood and non-european cinema! More attention really ought to be paid to films from outside that particular bubble. As Kurosawa said, "Never having seen a Satyajit Ray film is like never having seen the sun and the moon."

  35. 100% agree that bollywood makes 1930's american studio like movies. Most popular movies have nothing but dance numbers, bad acting and the resulting horrible celebrity culture. So much for being the largest movie industry.
    We need some serious aesthetic indian cinema!
    Last good indian movie i saw that came near to this was Masaan.

  36. One mainstream bollywood movie which was near perfection, which is like our own "Dances with Wolves" is perhaps "Lagaan". That movie was perfection. And yes it's long! 🙂

  37. What about Studio Ghibli whose films have outgrossed other films like Titanic in Japan and have either been nominated or won an academy award.

  38. Seriously the indian film industry esp. bollywood is loved by millions of people and they have produced great theatrical dramas in 90's and 00's such as Devdas, K3G. They also make movies on social issues with songs in them but does that take away the movie's seriousness about the issue ? Movies such as Paa, Taare Zameen Par, Phir bhi dil hai hindustani have themes ranging from dislexia and genetic abnormalities to terrorism and propaganda. Movies such as neerja, airlift and dang that deal with real people and their struggle. Sanjay leela bhansali's majestic sets and creative use of photography all summarised into a few words – "it has six songs and one guy" WOW white people WOW !!

  39. I love the Crash Course channel, but I can't believe when the Soviet Union gets its own film industry episode to itself when India has to suffice with just 3 minutes! Wether you like it or not Indian cinema has captured the second largest audience in the world and been able to be more influential post the Hollywood takeover of cinema from other nations. The impact of Indian films on the "East" everywhere from the Middle East, Former Soviet Union, East Asia is absolutely incredible. Hollywood has never been able to make inroads into India because of the pure juggernaut that is the Indian film industry (Not just Bollywood)!. Atleast do one episode on each influential film industry wether it be China, Japan or India, this series is WAY TOO rushed!

  40. Hope the world understand one day that Indian cinema is not just about Bollywood. The regional languages produces more quality movies.

  41. Kurosawa's Yojimbo was also remade as A Fistful Of Dollars and later Last Man Standing with Bruce Willis…

  42. Expected a more detailed study, please do a segment on Indian cinema specifically, it does (roughly) produce a quarter of the world's films!

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