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Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s Filmmakers Changed Movie Storytelling

Oct 27 — Oct 29, 2017

“It is not enough just to tell an interesting story,” wrote Darryl F. Zanuck in 1947. “Half the battle depends on how you tell the story. As a matter of fact, the most important half depends on how you tell the story.”

In the 1940s, filmmakers shrewdly consolidated narrative innovations that have remained with us ever since. Flashbacks, first-person narration, direct address to the audience, plunges into characters’ dreams and fantasies and neuroses—these techniques were not radically new. Many could be found in fiction, theater, radio, and silent film. But 1940s filmmakers consolidated and deepened them.

This series, organized by renowned film scholar David Bordwell, samples the era’s adventurous storytelling through five extraordinary films, all of which have become classics. The legacy of their daring persists, from the 1960s through the 1990s to today. Tarantino, Nolan, Soderbergh, and many other directors are heirs to these experiments in the hows of movie storytelling.

This series is based on David Bordwell’s Reinventing Hollywood: How Filmmakers Changed Movie Storytelling (2017, University of Chicago Press). Bordwell will deliver a talk and participate in a book signing.

Organized by guest curator David Bordwell.