Movies as Art

June 4, 1969

Report Outline
New Status of Movies as an Art Form
Landmarks in Development of Movies
Film Study in Colleges and Universities

New Status of Movies as an Art Form

Motion pictures have advanced, in three-quarters of a century, from the nickelodeon to Lincoln Center—from inexpensive entertainment for the masses to “the central art of our time.” Most of the people who go to the movies are young, intelligent and, to an extent not fully appreciated, film-educated. A recent survey, commissioned by the Motion Picture Association of America, found that around 50 per cent of the contemporary film audience is under age 24 and that 75 per cent of the audience is under age 40. Today's average high school student spends 11,000 hours in the classroom before graduation. By contrast, the same student has watched television for 15,000 hours and has seen 500 feature motion pictures by the time he is graduated. Around 75 per cent of the TV viewing time, moreover, has been taken up by filmed programs.

Small wonder, then, that young people consider film “their” medium. Courses on production and appreciation of motion pictures are proliferating in the country's colleges and even in high schools. The fourth National Student Film Festival was held recently at Lincoln Center in New York City. Some of the most sought-after directors now in Hollywood are relative newcomers to the motion picture industry —Mike Nichols (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate), Francis Ford Coppola (You're a Big Boy Now, Finian's Rainbow), Noel Black (Pretty Poison), John Cassavetes (Shadows, Faces).

Youth-oriented movies have scored both critical and financial success. The most notable recent example is The Graduate, a 1968 picture that in its first year of theater release became the fourth biggest box-office hit in the history of the movies. Of the top 10 films, ranked according to rentals received by American and Canadian distributors, no fewer than seven were released in the past six years and four of the seven had special appeal for young people.

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