The Persistence of Hollywood
Routledge – 2012 – 400 pages
While Hollywood’s success – its persistence – has remained constant for almost one hundred years, the study of its success has undergone significant expansion and transformation. Since the 1960s, Thomas Elsaesser’s research has spearheaded the study of Hollywood, beginning with his classic essays on auteurism and cinephilia, focused around a director’s themes and style, up to his analysis of the "corporate authorship" of contemporary director James Cameron. In between, he has helped to transform film studies by incorporating questions of narrative, genre, desire, ideology and, more recently, Hollywood’s economic-technological infrastructure and its place within global capitalism.
The Persistence of Hollywood brings together Elsaesser’s key writings about Hollywood filmmaking. It includes his detailed studies of individual directors (including Minnelli, Fuller, Ray, Hitchcock, Lang, Altman, Kubrick, Coppola, and Cameron), as well as essays charting the shifts from classic to corporate Hollywood by way of the New Hollywood and the resurgence of the blockbuster. The book also presents a history of the different critical-theoretical paradigms central to film studies in its analysis of Hollywood, from auteurism and cinephilia to textual analysis, Marxism, psychoanalysis, and post-industrial analysis.
"For over forty years, Thomas Elsaesser has been an indispensable guide to Hollywood's role in the history of popular art, and his gifts are on full display in this rich collection. The essays—imaginative, bold, and crisply written—are admirably sensitive to the ambivalent place of American filmmaking in global culture, from Hollywood's golden age to today's corporate moviemaking." —David Bordwell, Jacques Ledoux Emeritus Professor of Film Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison
"Thomas Elsaesser demonstrates the power of movies by drawing on auteur studies (from Welles, Hitchcock, and Kubrick to Avatar), genres, industrial aesthetics, narrative analyses, social-symptoms, and the imperatives of corporate, global Hollywood. Throughout, Elsaesser makes the reader feel the tangled, affective energies of cinephilia. Beautifully intelligent—an essential book." —Edward Branigan, Professor of Film and Media Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
Part I: Flashback: Of Objects of Love and Objects of Study 1. Film Studies in Britain: Cinephilia, Screen Theory and Cultural Studies 2. The Name for a Pleasure That Has No Substitute: Vincente Minnelli 3. All the Lonely Places: The Heroes of Nicholas Ray 4. Sam Fuller's Productive Pathologies: The Hero as (His Own Best) Enemy 5. Cinephilia: Or the Uses of Disenchantment Part II: Genius of the System 6. The Persistence of Hollywood, Part I: The Continuity Principle 7. Why Hollywood? 8. Narrative Cinema and Audience Aesthetics: The Mise-en-Scène of the Spectator 9. Film as System: Or How to Step Through an Open Door 10. Gangsters and Grapefruits: The Public Enemy Part III: Studio and Genre: Auteurs Maudits, Mavericks and Eminent Europeans 11. Transatlantic Triangulations: William Dieterle and the Warner Bros Biopics 12. Welles and Virtuosity: Citizen Kane as Character-Mask 13. The Dandy in Hitchcock 14. Too Big and Too Close: Alfred Hitchcock and Fritz Lang 15. Robert Altman’s Nashville: Putting on the Show 16. Stanley Kubrick’s Prototypes: The Author as World-Maker Part IV: Genie out of the Bottle – The Return of the System as Auteur? 17. The Pathos of Failure: Notes on the Unmotivated Hero 18. Auteur Cinema and the New Economy Hollywood 19. The Love that Never Dies: Francis Ford Coppola and Bram Stoker's Dracula 20. The Blockbuster as Time Machine 21. Auteurism Today: Signature Products, Concept-Authors and Access for All: Avatar Part V: The Persistence of Hollywood 22. Digital Hollywood: Between Truth, Belief and Trust 23. The Persistence of Hollywood, Part II: Reflexivity, Feedback and Self-Regulation
Thomas Elsaesser is Professor Emeritus of Film and Television Studies at the University of Amsterdam and, since 2006, Visiting Professor at Yale University. Among his recent books as author are: Weimar Cinema and After (Routledge, 2000); Metropolis (BFI, 2000); Studying Contemporary American Film (Hodder, 2002, with Warren Buckland); European Cinema: Face to Face with Hollywood (Amsterdam University Press, 2005); Film Theory: An Introduction Through the Senses (Routledge, 2010, with Malte Hagener).