Intrigue in the Big League

A uni student's intrigue in marketing and media

Fears of Homogenisation and Transnational Cinema

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Since the beginning of the motion picture era. in 1895, with Louis Lumiere’s invention of the Cinematographe, there have been fears of homogenisation in international cinema. Lumiere started the rise of the cinema in France, and for a while, ‘Pathe’, a French film company,  was the world’s leading producer and owner of films. By 1902, they had offices everywhere from Japan to Australia, and they were selling 12 films a week to the US. Soon, due to fear of homogeneity through film, the US bought into the film industry and by the 1930’s Hollywood was responsible for 80% of films screened worldwide. This shows how fears of homogenisation affected the US.

But how did Australia feel in all of this?

The first film produced in Australia was actually the world’s first feature length film and was produced in 1906. In the 1910’s Australia made 163 feature films. After this, there was a drop in film production in Australia due to the world war and great depression. Australia didn’t continue to produce films until the 1970’s when the Prime Minister insisted upon it.

“It’s time to see our own landscapes, hear our own voices, and dream our own dreams.” (Prime Minister Gorton)

This shows that Australia too was worried about the homogenisation that came with international American film.

The following clip shows famous Australian actress, Sigrid Thornton’s, views on homogenisation through American and British film and TV.

In contrast, transnational cinema seems to be forming a hybrid of cultural content within films.

Transnational refers to the “cultural and economic formations that are rarely contained by national boundaries” Andrew Higson.

Schaefer and Karan suggest that the mix of global and local content in films is actually leading towards a cultural hybridity within transnational cinema, and this cultural hybridity is “blurring the boundaries between the modern and the traditional, the high and low culture, and the  national and global culture” (2010 p. 309).

Supporting Schaefer and Karan’s argument, there are obvious examples of hybridised films that blur cultural boundaries. The film ‘Drive’ had a Danish director, does that make the film Danish? Not quite. The screenwriter was Iranian, the lead actor Canadian, and the film was influenced by Italian, Japanese and American genres. So whose film is it? Nobody is really sure. That makes it a transnational hybridised film.

Despite this, there are still fears of homogenisation through international cinema.

In my opinion, while hybridity seems to be on the rise, fear of homogenisation will prevent this hybridity growth if cultures refuse to accept transnational content.

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