This book charts and analyses the work of Oliver Stone – arguably one of the foremost political filmmakers in Hollywood during the last thirty years. Drawing on previously unseen production files from Oliver Stone’s personal archives and hours of interviews both with Stone and a range of present and former associates within the industry, the book employs a thematic structure to explore Stone’s life and work in terms of war, politics, money, love and corporations. This allows the authors both to provide a synthesis of earlier and later film work as well as locate that work within Stone’s developing critique of government. The book explores the development of aesthetic changes in Stone’s filmmaking and locates those changes within ongoing academic debates about the relationship between film and history as well as wider debates about Hollywood and the film industry. All of this is explored with detailed reference to the films themselves and related to a set of wider concerns that Stone has sought to grapple with -the American Century, exceptionalism and the American Dream, global empire, government surveillance and corporate accountability. The book concludes with a perspective on Stone’s ‘brand’ as not just an auteur and commercially viable independent filmmaker but as an activist arguing for a very distinct kind of American exceptionalism that seeks a positive role for the US globally whilst eschewing military adventurism.
This book offers a startling re-evaluation of what has until now been seen as the most critically lacklustre period of the British film history. It includes fresh assessment of maverick directors; Pat Jackson, Robert Hamer and Joseph Losey, and even of a maverick critic Raymond Durgnat. The book features personal insights from those inidividually implicated in 1950s cinema; Corin Redgrave on Michael Redgrave, Isabel Quigly on film reviewing, and Bryony Dixon of the BFI on archiving and preservation. A classic image from 1950s British cinema would be Jack Hawkins in The Cruel Sea, the epitome of quiet English integrity. Raymond Durgnat's A Mirror for England: British Movies from Austerity to Affluence, which deals extensively with British films of the 1950s, was written in the mid-1960s and was published in 1970. In a 1947 article called 'Angles of Approach' Lindsay Anderson delivered a fierce attack on contemporary British film culture, outlining a model for a devoted politics of creation, well in line with what we would later understand as auteurism and art cinema aesthetics . The war films of the 1950s together constitute the assented-to record of the emotions and moral judgments called upon to set in order those disorderly events. The book also talks about the Festival of Britain, White Corridors, and four Hamer's post-Ealing films: The Spider and the Fly, The Long Memory, Father Brown and The Scapegoat. A number of factors have contributed to the relative neglect of the 1950s as a decade in British cinema history.
get the fire burning in him. Midnight Express started
the catharsis, and after this his career garnered praise, admiration
and plenty of criticism for the visceral, uncompromising writing
in Scarface (Brian De Palma, 1983) and Year of the Dragon (Michael
Cimino, 1985). With the release of Platoon in 1986, his ambition
to show something of the real terror and confusion of combat
was finally realised in a film whose popular reception made Stone
Hollywood’s hottest property.
In important ways, Stone’s auteur brand was constantly evolving
during this period. The new
Sequence and the rise of auteurism in 1950s Britain
socio-economic, they were at the time mostly discussed and dealt with in
aesthetic terms, and we saw eventually the emergence of the European art
cinema, a new kind of film, specifically aimed at the literate and
professional middle classes.
One of the most important European contributions to the
film history of the 1950s was, thus, undoubtedly the sudden rise of the
auteur, the film director
auteurists clustered around the journal Movie . In the early 1960s
auteurism provided a battering ram to shatter the hallowed portals of
the critical establishment and Durgnat was intent on attacking the
British Film Institute and its house journal Sight and Sound . In
a wide-ranging polemic against prevailing cultural attitudes he
complained that: ‘The trouble with the S & S non-theory is
that it is an
, not even just an auteur. Rather, he has come to represent
an adjective that says something about the era of Hollywood filmmaking that he has worked in, and even more about late twentieth and early twenty-first-century American history that he has
repeatedly visualised and constructed on screen. All of it has been
accompanied by a running commentary virtually unheard of with
regard to other filmmakers. ‘[H]e has attracted greater controversy
and more passionate criticism than any of his contemporaries.
The plaudits and condemnations come in almost equal measure
single ‘video work’ all
by itself . . . there are no video masterpieces, there can never
be a video canon, even an auteur theory of video . . . The
discussion, the indispensable preliminary selection and
isolation, of a single ‘text’ then automatically
transforms it back into a ‘work’, turns the
anonymous videomaker back into a named artist or
, conﬁrmed her status as le phénomène
Angot and l’enfant terrible of the French literary scene.
Reading and writing subjects
If the events of contributed enormously to the move towards a focusing on otherness and diﬀerence as the deﬁning issues for social and personal understanding and development, they also catalysed the dramatic
loss of authority that would lead both to Barthes’s seminal essay, ‘La mort
de l’auteur’ (), which ends with the proclamation that ‘la naissance du
lecteur doit se payer de la mort de l’Auteur’ (‘the birth of the reader must
be at the
and away from the creatively free hand offered to auteurs in the
1970s. By 2010, as Stone discovered, even auteurs with final cut
in their contracts needed to push back against executive encroachment on the directing process.
More than that, Stone’s world view surmised that the financial meltdown and philosophy of money that he had identified as
America’s talismanic totem for so long through his career, had further social and cultural ramifications for the era in which America
now found itself. For in his follow-up movie of 2012, Savages
work. In the critical parlance of the time, Losey was the one auteur
of the British cinema.
Of course, not everyone would have agreed with the
Movie assessment of British film at this time, though it was
undoubtedly influential. Nevertheless, in a period when cinema was
entering what I would call its modernist phase and releasing an
explosion of artistically challenging work from, for example