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2016 – Breakout Session #2: Hollywood’s Historical Epics

006_historical-epics

After the screening of “Sunset Boulevard” (1950), I took the opportunity to talk about Historical Epics which represent the heights of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Any comments on this breakout session will be welcome!

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47 responses to “2016 – Breakout Session #2: Hollywood’s Historical Epics

  1. White Rabbit ⋅

    When discussing several of the actors from the movie Sunset Boulevard, and the Hollywood Historical Epics, it was interesting to learn that Buster Keaton was one of the actors playing cards in the film. I’ll need to re-watch it, but somehow I missed it. I recently watched Sherlock Jr., and loved his character in this silent film. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a watch, even if you’re not much into the silent films. It was also interesting to learn how many of the actors were famous during the silent film era, and following. For instance, Cecil DeMille. I guess I really need to learn more about film history, as I’m not well-versed with many of the celebrities, especially at this time.

    On a separate note, it was interesting to learn about the formula used by producers to maximize the opportunity for success. It makes sense, it’s very logical, but I’m sure for any risk taker, it’s imperative to consider all the variables. From Production Value, to Story Value, to Star Value, every element should be considered carefully when assessing the potential risk for success/failure of a film. In that sense, I would probably be the worst producer ever, as risk-taking is a big part of my life. I also didn’t know they had a Sunset Blvd musical. I’m a little worried, but I’m sure it’s worth watching. I’m trying to picture the crazy old lady singing, and it sounds very entertaining.

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    • TaiwanSwag ⋅

      I agree the formula producers used are very logical, but I never thought about them before I heard them in the discussion. I would probably be worse of a producer than you do because I am not risk-taker either, not even talking about how taking risk is probably the main part of their jobs. I agree that most producers would try to fulfill all the values to maximize their chances of success, but some of them take the risk of using big budget just to make a film that they wanted to instead of trying to profit from it, which I would never understand because if I am taking risk with all my budgets, I would try to profit as much as I could instead of making what I wanted.

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  2. Eddie ⋅

    I’m not sure really what a classic Epic would be lol when I think of great old hollywood epics I think of the old Sinbad movies I think Sinbad The Sailor (1947) should count as film from the golden age of Hollywood for sure. But
    either way to me the story was awesome though I do look back and find the acting to be a bit slower paced than in modern films when I was a child I really enjoyed the films.
    The crazy Claymation stop action monsters and the well told stories are some of the best parts of the movies.

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    • pizzaboy ⋅

      I haven’t heard about that movie in years!!! It was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid, lol. I always thought the monsters were kind of silly, but as a kid I couldn’t help but find them a little scary.

      When I would think of a classic epic I would think of Ben Hur or even Lawrence of Arabia to an extent. I guess the earliest classical example would probably be Seven Samurai.

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  3. clintrump ⋅

    When it comes to Hollywood epics honestly I am not well-versed in the “classic” epics. However, I think epics must have a huge budget for actors, amazing shooting locations, and props. In addition to the fundamentals I think epics must have a good story line both long in duration and keeps the viewer highly entertained.

    I think one of the more recent films that qualifies as a Hollywood epic would have to be Titanic. The movie was over three hours long cost around 200 million dollars to produce in 1997 and generated over 2 billion in profit. The set was amazing for its time looking very realistic and the actors were top notch for the time period.

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    • liarina ⋅

      I agree with your point about Titanic because I will considered it as one of the classic Hollywood epics, and I think Titanic can be a such successful big hit for several reasons. First of all, the film is cast with two major stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and we can’t never underestimate the effect of star value. In addition, the movie is baed on the true story and mixed with the romance. who will not be happy to watch this in theater? Also, as you mentioned that the production of Titanic qualifies the it as the “epic” due to the film uses a lot of workforce and cost about 200 million. In addition, even though when the film is released, i was still a baby. However, i have heard a lot from my parents to talk about watching this film in theater and how people are crazy about it. So yeah, when talking about the Hollywood historical epic in recent years, i also consider Titanic and i think it is very suitable for this praise.

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  4. Nyphos ⋅

    We didn’t get very far into the topic of Hollywood epics last class, but I’m looking forward to it. The only epic I think I’ve seen was Ben Hur, but I remember enjoying it. I want to know more about how long it took to shoot movies like these, and how directors are able to control so many extras while shooting.

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  5. postnroast ⋅

    The art of consumer and product; Marketing a film.
    The most important part of film should be expression. I feel that film has been limited, for the creator, by the demand and supply curve of the audience. Of course the idea that the consumer is in command of all film and its production would be like saying that film is equal to purchasing food, you buy what you want. Which in theory isn’t too far off. The production of film and its success, follows a formula. The formula to a successful film has been mapped by Hollywood and applied and followed by many successful westerns and American films ( various other countries follow this rule and standard of film, maybe with one or two variables changed here and there, but the same nonetheless. )
    Star value, Production value and story value, these are the three main components of success to a film. We start with star value, the star value is a symbol of brand product for the consumer that allows the audience to decide whether they want to watch the film or not. Which can be altered by either story value or production value. The idea, is to find a balance of all three to make a great film. For example Pirates of the Caribbean, this film meets the three criteria’s and thus rendered an extremely successful film. Production value can overcome star value if the movie has a large cast or a large amount of CGI, this element can attract the audience on a larger scale while ignoring the star value and creating stars at the same time. Story value is another way to create a film that can ignore the other two components while making a film that has great response from the consumer. A great example of a film that whether good or bad responses would be the elections of 2016. As a trending topic the interest would be enough to bring people to the film. As the theorem implies the perfect balance of all three has the possibility of making a great film. Keeping in mind that budgets are an obstacle that are not easy to overcome, it helps to have a big one. But the budget alone isn’t enough to make a great film, there has to be a vision, a visionary and expressionism.

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    • Frank Bullitt ⋅

      You make very valid points when it comes to the demand curve of cinema being driven by (obviously) the consumer. You are correct that this is how it is in the US. However, as you mention, there are other countries that have different standards. for example in France, they have a national cinema system that allows for a less demand driven creation of film. In French cinema, a portion of every ticket sold goes back to the national foundation. This foundation allows for the distribution of funds to many projects and not all of which is aimed at blockbuster films. Rather the goal of many of these films is to promote film as an art or experiment. Having said all that, we are in an American film class and our films are as you say, consumer driven in which the overall goal is to make money above making art.

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      • postnroast ⋅

        Interesting. That leads me to believe whether the actual drives in different countries differ as the ethics and morality are sometimes different.

        With different drives for creators, such as filmmakers, can it actually effect the end product of films in different countries ?

        hidden under the thin line of the different thinking process of countries, lies a pros and cons list that may apply universally to human nature. in regards to, legal tender/ currency importance to existence. In a perfect society I would argue that prestige and upper class does not matter.

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  6. Pedro Rodrigues ⋅

    In Hollywood, there are many films that will be remembered forever in the history of cinema. The movies that made part of a full generations of fans and admirers can present many different characteristics. These elements made these production to be known in the whole world, such as the great scene of Moses opening the sea in The Ten Amendments (scene that we saw in class). This scene was surely impressive for the viewers of that time, mainly because of the innovating especial effects. Of course, nowadays this scene would be considered a joke, but considering the lack of conditions of that period, it is reasonable why it made a lot of success. Recently, we expect much more of the movies because of the technology disposable for the studios and producers. While I was reading the comments, I could not notice the great Titanic, which was a massive production containing an amazing plot and impressive especial effects. Other movies like that are mostly remembered by the big budgets, but there are exceptions like the 300. Finally, I think my favorite Hollywood epic the Gladiator, especially the final scene of the fight between Maximus and the emperor. It was a heartbreaking that scene when she saw his wife and kid, while he was laid on the floor of the Coliseum.

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    • dinerbears ⋅

      Although I am not a big fan for these epics genre movies, The Ten Commandments actually caught my attention. Of course, the special effects that we saw were hilarious compare to today’s standards. However, it was probably the most innovating effects at the time and that’s why the movie was so successful. I was trying to think of anything that the modern movies could pull out and surprise people like it did in the Ten Commandments. But I couldn’t really think of any special effects or techniques that could blow people’s mind. Now after seeing the Ten Commandments, I really want to go and watch the Gladiator as you mentioned. It sounded like it had a very good story and I assume acceptable visuals as well. Definitely looking forward to watch it.

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  7. Nox ⋅

    I enjoyed this breakout session particularly because we got to discuss marketing and how it relates to movies. It’s fascinating to learn about movies that completely bombed in the states but thrived elsewhere, or that there was a British Lord of the Rings. I wasn’t familiar with most of the movies, but I did know the big titles like Cleopatra and Ben Hur. I don’t think anyone brought it up in class, but they actually just released an updated version of Ben Hur in August and from my understanding it flopped and received lackluster reviews. It brought in less than it’s budget which is never a good sign, I’d be interested as to what went wrong during this remake and why it didn’t do well.

    I think it’d be wrong to say people don’t care about the classics anymore, because a lot of reboots are successful like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, so much it even got a sequel. It makes me wonder if any of the movies we’ve discussed in class will be getting remade in the near future, like Cleopatra. Furthermore who owns the rights to these titles? The people who handled production of the original movies from the 50s and 60s are long gone, so do companies go to great lengths to get the rights to producing a film they want to remake? I know we’re probably moving on from this section but if the topic comes back up it might be worthwhile to discuss, as we keep seeing film revivals even here in Japan, ergo Godzilla.

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  8. White Rabbit ⋅

    Watching a clip from the 10 Commandments was great. I’ve heard many people talk about the movie, but never watched it myself. For it’s time, it really appears to be advanced. Growing up in a generation where technology is far more advanced than it’s era, it can be difficult to watch a scene like the fire pillar one and not cringe. It was also interesting to see Hollywood attempt to depict a story it understand very little about. I suppose it was simply giving it’s audience the content it was seeking, while making a fortune over it. I’ll have to watch the whole movie through, but it really depicts the characters unrealistically, which creates a world that seems so distant from our world today. On the other hand, it was really cool how Hollywood did attempt to portray the parting sea, which wasn’t an easy task for the time. The costumes were also decent, and the Egyptian city was very extravagant.

    It’s interesting to see the shift of films, and how the Bible stories just aren’t popular anymore. At some point, we changed as a society. The desire for darker themes and twisted morality is growing tremendously. But I would challenge Hollywood with this thought: what about ethical responsibility? Could there be a strong co-relation between popular film themes and hate crimes? Our generation is exposed to so much darkness, and most of us are desensitized to extreme violence. And if our school shootings and hateful rhetoric is strongly influenced by the media we consume, at what point is Hollywood liable for propelling this outcome?

    I’m not necessarily concluding anything at this point; rather observing the possible co-relation between the shift in what we crave as an audience, and the growing pain experienced by our nation. And at the end of day, as we always say, Hollywood’s just out to make another dollar, and we can conclude from Hollywood’s Epic Films that our society’s social trends (in my opinion its morality) is continuously evolving.

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    • TaiwanSwag ⋅

      I agree with your idea that how Hollywood is trying to tell the story that it doesn’t really understood well, but I would say that’s just because they wanted to give what the audiences would want to see just so they could have better chance to success. I am also kind of disappointed and sad that the Hollywood is shying away from Christianity theme because I feel like it was a popular genre back in the day like the Ten Commandments. I agree maybe it’s just because the audiences nowadays wanted more actions and horror instead of bible stories.

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  9. Armitage ⋅

    What is the defining characteristic of a classic Historical epic? Firstly Historical, of course the historical epic needs, not historical accuracy, but historical inspiration. For example Ben Hur isn’t abour an actual historical figure or event, but by being set in a historical time and place transports the audience into history. The epic part poses the most complexity. What do we mean when we say epic? If it simply means grand in scale, then when does a film become large enough to be called epic? For example, is The Revenant an historical epic? It is historical certainly but there are very few, compared to a film like gladiator, characters. But if you consider the classical epics like Gilgamesh, with only a handful of named characters; The Revenant would certainly fall into that category.
    While I write this Im looking at what IMDB says are Historical epics. One film that is considered by IMDB as a Historical epic is Schindler’s List. Which I never thought of as an historical epic, an Historical drama perhaps. One film we mentioned in class was Titanic, like Schindler’s list I never thought of as “Epic”. Also interesting is Apocalypse now could be an historical epic. Though I never thought of it as being an historical epic when I remember the film I can see why some would consider it an historical epic. The Godfather series is also considered by some to be historical epics and like others I wonder if any historical fiction film could be argued as a historical epic. Could we consider Captain Philips or Sully historical epics. They are both epic and based on true events but since those true events happened so recently are they historical? I would argue that the historical epics were the films that put epic moments on screen before it was common to simulate them with computer effects. Because any move with a big enough special effects budget could be made “epic”, but the true epic accomplishments are films like The Revenant that create cinematic moments with natural effects.

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    • jonsnow ⋅

      This is something I wondered as well when I first heard the term “historical epic”. It is interesting how a historical epic actually rarely has concrete historical accuracy, but will romanticize what happened or even fictionalize a historical character completely, like in Ben Hur. Films like Hercules and Troy will romanticize the stories so much as for dramatic effect, no matter how historically inaccurate it may be. I also liked what you said about being transported to a different time in history, because I feel like that’s also what very good period pieces do. I too wonder what makes a film cross the line into an “epic”. Epic or grand in scale can mean anything from the number of cast members to the physical size of the sets and locations.

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  10. clintrump ⋅

    After further discussion in class it was interesting to learn more about the history of Hollywood’s historical epic films that were produced. I think the epic films that were produced coincided with American economic strength giving Hollywood and excessive amount of money to produce films to entertain Americans. I noticed how the beginning of this era started with Ben-Hur in 1925, and the last epic film produced was Cleopatra in 1963. The favorable economic conditions of the 1920’s, the post-war 1950’s into the early 1960’s made this golden age in Hollywood possible.

    I also noticed as we discussed the various films that were produced that most of them cost at least twice as much to four times as much as the original budget. I think Hollywood put an end to the era of epics because Cleopatra was super expensive to produce, and at the same time the film generated massive losses in revenue. I think that if there will ever be another era of “Epic” films it could only be possible to produce a film of that magnitude in a country like China which is experiencing rapid economic growth, and a growing market of people who want to see movies that can rival what has been produced in past American epics.

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  11. IsThePartyOver ⋅

    Historical epics are supposedly the best Hollywood could do at the peak of its history, masterpieces even, yet I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by what I saw in The Ten Commandments. Clearly the visual effects have not aged so well, but I understand that at that time they must have been outstanding, that is not my problem with it. The aspects that did not sit so well with me were the music/sound design and acting. The first feels weirdly placed, with several moments of odd silences or just white noise; I’m surprised to see how underdeveloped it sounds compared to a true sound design masterpiece such as Once Upon Time in the West that we’ve watched in class. Yes, there is a gap of almost a decade between the two films, but it is hard for me to watch The Ten Commandments and call it the best Hollywood could do in the Golden Age. On the acting, it just doesn’t feel natural, and perhaps that was the intention; it is still very theatrical, even more so than Sunset Blvd in my opinion, a film that had been released 6 years before. I might have to rewatch it, but whoever portrayed Moses, at least in the scene we watched, did it in such a way that seemed as if he was reading lines off a script (I might come back to this point later). All of that being said, I must say that the sets are sort of amazing if real, were they? If so, considering the sheer size of that temple I must give huge praise to the production design and/or art directors. That is something we will probably never ever see in Hollywood again. If they were fake, then I don’t know if I have much to like about the film so far. Historical epics? I still haven’t formed a opinion since The Ten Commandments is only one of many.

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  12. IsThePartyOver ⋅

    Having watched Ben-Hur today, I feel like historical epics have slightly gone up in my books. I don’t know exactly how much of the set was real or not, nevertheless, they look impressive and immense. The number of extras used is equally insane. Today, 90% of the crowd we saw in the film would be just CG, or even more. On top of that, the action pulled some gasps from me; stunt work is unbelievable and incredibly welcomed. I really appreciate when filmmakers dare to take the practical approach to filming. That is not to say I dislike CG, on the contrary, I feel like it opened a lot of possibilities for films but I always give huge props to real locations and SFX. Recent examples would be Mad Max or The Revenant. In both cases, it really shows how much passion the director has for his film, authenticity, and traditional filmmaking as a whole. Back to Ben-Hur, still on the technicalities, I found it curious how they chose not to have any soundtrack during the chariot race. Certainly made it more real, but I’m still not sure whether that stylistic decision pulled the maximum tension and drama that could’ve been pulled from that key event. Somehow I felt it was anti-climatic, despite the amazing action and camera work. Finally, one last thing I wanted to point out is the clear visual distinction made between the two main characters during the chariot race, which was very symbolic for the beliefs each character stood for as well as the message the filmmakers wanted to give. The non-Christian rides the blackest horses, is a cheater, and like most of the other competitors, has a leash to lash on the horses. Our Christian hero however have these pure, gorgeous white horses which he never hits, and naturally, becomes the winner of the race. What else is there to say, can it be any more obvious?

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    • Sorabari ⋅

      I was impressed with the number of extras in Ben-Hur. Nowadays, the technology of CG has been developed well, so it costs thousands dollar to make nothing real with CG. For Ben-Hur, people are involved not CG, so any scene has strong impact that I can’t feel from CG movies. In my opinion, the reason is that the extras act what they are supposed to. Each extra has their own way to act, so we can see the lag when they do the same action. The lag makes me think that they’re alive, not CG. With CG, they would become like marching robots, so I wouldn’t be able to be connected emotionally to the CG characters. Therefore, it’s really fresh to see real people involved in a film that much.

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  13. clintrump ⋅

    Watching the original 1959 production of Ben-Hur in class was really amazing. In previous classes we just discussed more of what makes a film a Hollywood epic, but watching the film gave me a real vision of what that means.

    I liked the conflict between Judah who was the good guy following god, and his adversary that prayed to a god of Saturn. I think the film did play on more traditional American Christian values that people followed in 1959. Also I noticed that Judah had four white horses with a brighter chariot compared to his adversary taking on a more villainous image with 4 black horses, and a red chariot that looked somewhat menacing. The elaborate set filled with actors dressed in costumes that looked authentic made me feel like I was back in time watching an event during the ancient Roman games. The action scene kept me on the edge of my seat. I thought it was sort of strange how the villain was allowed to have spikes on the wheels of his chariot while Judah, and the other racers were not allowed to have the same advantage? Near the end of the race I liked how Judah fought back in an action sequence grabbing his advisories horsewhip and beating him causing him to lose control of his four black horses and ultimately losing the race.

    Watching the small intro, and parade scene in Cleopatra was also very impressive. Just like Ben-Hur I thought the costumes that all of the actors were wearing were very authentic and realistic looking. I thought the huge Sphinx prop that Cleopatra rode on as she entered Rome was really a work of art. Her entrance was very grandiose and imposing. Overall I would have to say that I am pretty impressed to see the quality of epic films that were produced over fifty years ago.

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  14. shmoo ⋅

    That chariot race was amazing! I cannot imagine the time and effort that must of gone into that (very long) scene. Firstly, the set was huge and very realistic. And on top of that, there were so many extras in those stands. That is something we do not see so much anymore, as there is cgi which can create any type of crowd you need. But the horses were the best actors. They were all in sync, running with all their might, and not trampleing each other or the actors. I hope no horses were hurt though during the wipe out scenes…

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  15. KillDozer ⋅

    Historical epics and their modern blockbuster equivalents are the biggest gambles in film, unless they’re Avengers, Transformers, or Star Wars which apparently make no less than a billion dollars world wide. Still, they have the greatest potential to be awe inspiring while at the same time possessing the potential to be the biggest of all bombs.
    Case in point, Cleopatra, a perfect example of a ton of money being spent in service to an otherwise lame premise and weak characters. We only watched about ten minutes of this film in class but they were ten very telling minutes. The sequence we watched just looked expensive. There’s a huge set with big detailed props, a ton of extras, elaborate choreography, a wide variety of camera angles, the whole thing is a huge spectacle. All of this is going on, and we basically just watched ten minutes of very expensive nonsense that doesn’t serve to move the plot along at all. It’s literally just a scene where Cleopatra comes to meet Caesar, is all of this really necessary? How about they just meet? Only, and this is a stretch, there’s dialog, there’s motivation, and the characters are interesting. You don’t need to dump a bunch of money into what’s basically a love story.
    The pod race in Ben Hur, it looked expensive also but it was very entertaining and served to move the plot along of two best friends turned enemies. There’s a reason this is important, there’s motivation, it keeps us invested. In Cleopatra, a scene that looks just as expensive to shoot is boring, it serves little or no purpose, and it just seems grandeur for grandeur’s sake, BECAUSE it’s an “epic”, it MUST look expensive. Well, things that look expensive often are, and there better be something story-wise to keep the audience interested. Again, this doesn’t apply to the endless Transformers sequels.

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    • karltuj

      That’s exactly the point why I showed these two clips. While of course not not being enough to make a final judgment about the quality of both of these films (you would have to see it all, and we can’t do it in class), it can’t be argued that Ben Hur is a masterpiece of action cinema (with a kind of fast moving Western-inspired plot), Cleopatra is more like a romantic drama that definitely was overproduced (on top that it came at the end of a genre cycle, and had many other production issues).

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  16. Frank Bullitt ⋅

    When it comes to historical epics, I will be the first to admit that this is the biggest out of many genres that I know nothing about. For the most part, when it comes to historical epics, the only one that comes to mind that I have watched would be Lawrence of Arabia (1962). But when comparing that to some of the short clips that we have seen in class it is much different in terms of the use of color and maybe the amount of extras.
    When it comes to Hollywood making epics, I found them to be astonishing. The sheer size of the undertaking must have been so intense and I can understand why the budgets had to be huge. For the clip that was shown in class of Cleopatra (1963) there was so much that went into just that sequence. First the main actors have to be paid and then the extras presumably have to be paid. After that there is the huge sets that have to be constructed and the amount of space they take up also has to be taken into consideration. After that there is all of the costumes that everybody was wearing. Finally there is all of the choreography and people behind the scenes that have to be taken into account. So when Karl mentions that the film took around $300 million in today’s money to make the film it is not all that surprising.
    I guess the big question is whether or not the epic could make it with the viewers today. As mentioned in class, there has been a new cycle of epics, but they are not the same. From the examples mentioned, the majority has gone to television instead of on the big screen. I think that this most of all has to do with the length of attention that mainstream is willing to dedicate to a film. I find it that generally people don’t want to be doing one thing for very long anymore. So when an epic is made for film, it is a tall ask for a person to go to the cinema and watch it for three or more hours. In addition to that, I think that the studios are very nervous still to put the large amount of money that an epic requires into any idea. It seems that the studios would rather a remake or something based of a book that take some of the other value adders into consideration before making a untested film.

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  17. Nyphos ⋅

    I really enjoyed watching the clips from both Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur. I’m still amazed by how many people there are in these movies, especially from the long shots in Ten Commandments when you see everyone making their way across the ocean floor. They seem to stretch all the way past the horizon. I forgot how crazy the Colosseum scene is in Ben-Hur. The camera work was very well done and must have taken forever to shoot. I also noticed that it followed the usual good guy/bad guy white vs. black scheme with the horses. The protagonist was the only rider to have all white horses and of course his main rival’s horses were the only ones that were all black.

    The clip from Cleopatra was beautiful. It’s a shame to think that so much effort and money was put in a movie only for it to flop when it was finally released.

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    • Sorabari ⋅

      I was surprised with the editing technology. When I watched the scene where Moses divides the ocean, cloud gets dark, the ocean was divided. I assume that the system of technology that the cloud gets dark is made by black ink dropped in water. It reminds me of Tokusatsu, which is special effects used in Japanese classic movie. However, I couldn’t figure out how the divided ocean moves while people are crossing the ocean. Even though we can see the line that people or the place are divided by the original background, I was amazed by the power of the real environment, not CG

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    • youngbillionaire ⋅

      The Colosseum scene is in Ben-Hur was crazy. It still surprises me that they had such technology to shoot such great visuals. On the other hand because Colosseum scene is in Ben-Hur blew my mind the scene where Moses divides the ocean seemed cheap. I know it’s a great scene for its time and technology they had, but when I compare it to Ben-Hur it doesn’t feel as great as it is.

      When I was watching the Colosseum scene I wasn’t paying attention to the good guy/bad guy white vs. black scheme with the horses but now that you mention it I also see it. I think it was good that they had the two different colors of horses because color distinction makes the scene more dramatic and investing. If both team just had regular brown horses the scene wouldn’t look as epic and luxurious.

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  18. TaiwanSwag ⋅

    During the breakout session, it was very interesting to learn the ways how producers maximize their chances of success. I never thought about these aspects until I heard them it was actually very simple and straightforward. Producers are usually trying to exploit these elements to attract viewers, such as production, story, and star value. Now I think about it, these are mostly what I consider when choosing a movie to watch. To me, producers are actually gamblers, they are willing to risk the budget to achieve whatever it is necessary that they think could make the movie successful. It was also very interesting to learn that the budget of a film sometimes goes up to 2 to 3 times or even higher, and the financiers do not really have a chance to refuse to put in more money because if they don’t, all the money they previously put in would go to waste. So the financers are actually gambling with the producers as well.
    On the other hand, it was shocking to know that some producers and directors are always willing to use a big budget just to make whatever they wanted to make instead of trying to make profit, and corporations who went in for the movie ended up in bankruptcy.

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    • uruwa ⋅

      I also found this topic interesting. I never really looked into the process of funding a movie and making everything work financially. You always here about films not getting the budget they wanted or having to stop production because someone or some company went bankrupt or some financial backer pulled out at the last minute. It was interesting to learn more about the roles of producers vs. directors, and also to realize how they put all these little pieces together (star value, plot, etc.) to create something that will draw a large audience. This seems to be how some movies get two or three sequels, even though they get worse as time goes on.

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  19. TaiwanSwag ⋅

    The movie clip that we watched, the 10 Commandments, was very interesting. I have heard people talking about old movies, which I rarely go and watch them because I am so used to the technology in filmmaking today. I have to admit that the effects are cringy at first, but now I think about it, it was quite impression during the time period when this movie was made. It was interesting to hear that people are trying new things in movies and people actually appreciated when they saw new technology or effects implemented.
    It seems like the Hollywood or any other filmmaking corporations are shying away from the Christianity genre. I have heard about many films that’s well done and successful with Christianity topics, but they were usually old movies. I feel like people nowadays just wanted more violence, actions, or horror instead of uplifting bible stories or any religious movies. The movies that are popular nowadays are usually very dark and depressing. I would want to see someone makes another try on this kind of movie and see if the genre died in modern film business.

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    • uruwa ⋅

      It’s definitely hard to watch movies with older-style effects, but epics like these shouldn’t be judged against modern standards. It’s sad that a lot of people wouldn’t want to give movies like The Ten Commandments a chance just because it’s older and doesn’t have “amazing CGI”. You’re right, though, when saying it was impressive for it’s time. I’m glad some people still appreciate films like these.

      As for the film industry shying away from the top of Christianity, it definitely seems so. The last movie I can think of that appealed to a wide audience (perhaps not upon it’s release, but over time), was Dreamworks’ The Prince of Egypt. It was an animated film, but highly acclaimed due to it’s brilliant storytelling and amazing animation. I’ve met many people who list it as one of their favorite movies, and follow up by saying they aren’t religious whatsoever. It’s sad that the general public nowadays probably wouldn’t be as accepting to a movie like this, even though it wasn’t a primarily “Christian” movie.

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    • liarina ⋅

      as same as you, i rarely go watch any films about christianity because when people talking this genre, it usually point to the really old ones such as the 10 Commandments that watch the clip during the class.
      Since i also like the advanced technology in filmmaking nowadays and i am so glad that we still get to see the Christian films which seem to be an old-fashioned topic but with a new level of technology in production to provide the whole new movie experience. For example, the latest one i have watched is Exodus: Gods and Kings which stars with Christian Bale to talk about the story of Mose. Although the film is received mixed review, i still think it is a chance for people to know about this genre in the modern film business.

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    • dinerbears ⋅

      These religious movies are not my genre for movies, but I was really interested in the Ten Commandment movie. I have to agree that the effects when Moses was trying to split the sea apart was quite cringy, but we couldn’t ask for too much if we were living back in the day. In fact, we would probably be crying with satisfaction after watching the movie. Although I am really not into these kind of movies, I would like to see people try to do a remake or an adaption of the Ten Commandments or just anything similar and see what we they can do with today’s technology. That would certainly be interesting to watch.

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  20. Derp ⋅

    I was simply astonished by the scale of historical epic. Literarily, it was “epic”. “The Ten Commandments” were my favorite. Taking the time this film was made into consideration, it’s unbelievable that they made the grand scale scene of an ocean spliting in half without CGI. And the scale of the number of actors involved was beyond what we have seen.

    But then it scared me to hear that some actors died in the process of making historical epic. Especially, I got freaked out when actors got thrown away from horses during the film about historical horse race or something.

    So this brought up a question: are the lives of actors/stuntmen valued in filmmaking? I hear that stuntmen were injured or died during some films here and there, but I wonder if it was the same–or worse–in the old time. I think about this question especially when I watch a grand-scale film like these historical epic we’ve seen.
    I bet that the lives of actors matter a lot, since some famous actors have name values that work as a sort of the brand for the film. Also, there is no one to substitute for that actors in terms of acting. Sometimes I am amazed to hear that some movies use actual main actors to do dangerous actions. Perhaps, it works as the advertising element for the film, saying that the actor did the dangerous actions. On the other hand, I feel like the fact that stuntmen’s lives can be endangered during dangerous actions is taken for granted in the filmmaking. It’s pretty scary to think about it.

    However, I don’t know if the old grand-scale films like these historical epic valued the lives of actors/stuntmen the same way. Whether it is modern or not, I bet the grand-scale film requires a massive number of people, so I can guess some things may go wrong and accidents may happen. But it’s simply upsetting to hear that someone or some animal gets injured or dies in the creation of such movies.

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  21. youngbillionaire ⋅

    Before this class I didn’t really know historical epics is a genre. I know that there are many films to with the history but I didn’t know that it was a genre of its own. In class we watched few scene from different films. But because the scene in Ben-Hur was soo good I don’t remember much of the other scene we watch. Most of all what surprised me is the film Ben-Hur and its colosseum scene. From people to shoot a film like that in a time where CG wasn’t a thing Its incredible. Watching the scene, I had my eyes glued to the screen but after watching the race, it came to my mind how hard it must have been to make such an epic scene. Not only the camera work and the set was but the costumes and the number of people who was acting was crazy too.

    I’ve looked up Ben-Hur and there is a remake of it so if I ever get a chance I would like to look at the original and the remade one and see how technology developed and made a difference in the remade one.

    Ben-Hur seems like a very investing film and I am glad that I got to know about historical epics though such a great film.

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    • OOR ⋅

      I agree with you that I didn’t know that there is a genre of historical epics, and I’m confusing that which movies are include as this genre. I know that the movie is related with history and talking about the old things can be in this genre, but how about western movies? I wonder that western movies which is showing cowboys with riding horses and shooting guns can’t be one of the movies as historical epics? Because as for Japanese movie productions that if we make a samurai or ninja movie, they are categorized as historical movies because it is related with Japanese history, and there is no more samurai in Japan. Therefore, I can’t understand why American people separated the genre of the movies as western and historical epics. If the samuraies speak western Japanese dialect in the movie, it is going to be called western Japanese historical movie? It is like complicated I think that the reason why they separated the genre of both western and historical epics might be as for my opinion that cowboy movies are really famous in the United States, so they separated as two of them because there are a lot of famous and popular wester movies in the all over the world such as mummy and Indy jones. Both movies are really famous and Hollywood movies as western movie, but both movies are featured with the other Egyptian culture and historical epics, so they could be hit in all over the world. As for the Hollywood movie for both movies, they made really a lot of money and make sequel movies again and again like a Star Wars, so they could be one of the major movies in the United States. I actually don’t remember the movie what you stated on your statement about the movie we have watched in the class called Ben hur, but after I read your statement, I got interested to watch the movie again. The original movie was published in 1959, and people doing remaking the movie release in this year. I think that remaking is one of the best way to make a lot of money more because there are a lot of remake movies like in recently, Disney movies are remaking in holly wood such as Tarzan and jungle book. It is one of the best way, and I think that a lot of Japanese people went to watch both movies in the cinema.

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  22. jonsnow ⋅

    I have to admit, I think the only full historical epic movie I’ve watched from start to finish was Troy (2004). It’s not a genre that I’m a huge fan of, I guess because I find the large scale filming and cast and huge interweaving plots too intimidating and too complex to dive into. For me, an older historical epic movie would be one of the last things I would want to watch. I’m one of those people who find it hard to watch older movies because the lower quality distracts me and I find myself wishing I was watching something more flashy, modern, and fast-paced. However, the discussion about historical epics reminded me of a YouTube video I recently watched, which explained why (in the user’s opinion) the recent Batman vs. Superman movie was such a fantastic failure. He said in the video that one of the biggest fundamental flaws of the movie was director Zack Snyder’s preoccupation with “moments” and not enough focus on the actual “scenes”. That movie ‘moments’ can be awesome and transcendent, where the score swells and tries to awe you just from that very moment. Snyder’s movie focused entirely too much on these slow motion montage moments, and not enough on the actual scenes. The director treated scenes more as filler scenes between ‘moments’. The quality of the scenes are fundamental to making the characters and plot into a living and breathing reality, and serves the movie with a strong sense of place. I’m not sure how much this concept applies to historical epics specifically, but it definitely applies to large scale movies that are hard to follow because of the lack of character or plot development in between the big ‘moments’. This could contribute to why these types of movies don’t appeal to me, because I don’t enjoy films where the characters are all simply serving the storyline and contributing to one large narrative.

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  23. uruwa ⋅

    Movies from this era were the types of films that I would watch when I was younger and spent summers at my grandparents’ house. I remember loving The Ten Commandments on VHS. It was such a long movie, that it took up two tapes. I absolutely loved it! Everything about it absolutely amazed me. The characters, the way the story was portrayed, the grandeur of it all. I watched it almost every day.

    Movies like these are few and far in between nowadays due to the level of visual effects that we have at our disposal. Most large scenes with lots of background actors and scenery are usually created by computer programs now, not made out of actual sets and starring real people. In a way, it ruins the authenticity of movies, and even makes you doubt scenes that are supposedly shot without any help from computer graphics. In the golden age of Hollywood, when they were making epics like these movies, it really did seem like magic. Even to me, as a young kid, these movies were incredible. Of course, looking back on them now, it’s hard to take what few “special effects” they have seriously, but I still get so into this movie because I remember how incredible it seemed to me as a child. Movies nowadays don’t really do that anymore. Sure, they still have good plots and stars and concepts, but the settings usually aren’t something that amazes people so much anymore.

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  24. Vera Lynn ⋅

    I am a history nerd, so I really dig classical historical epics. We talked a bit in class that they don’t really seem to make a lot of them these days. In fact, the last truly great one that I can recall is Brave Heart…and honestly I am not 100% sure you would classify it as an epic. Anyway, I think the reason we don’t see them so much these days is for 2 reasons. The first being that I think they have the biggest potential to be flops. The amount of money that is usually needed to create something like that is staggering. There just isn’t a lot of room for error. The other reason is that I believe the reason people went to see historical epics was for the spectacle of it all. The way things are now, when people want to see a giant set peace movie, they go and watch whatever super hero movie is playing. And I think most of the money that studios have is being put into super hero movies. At the end of the day, currently there doesn’t seem to be an audience for historical epics, and there doesn’t seem to be the money for them either.

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    • RM ⋅

      The historical epic is one of the most interesting genres to come out of hollywood. I understand that it started as a marketing ploy. Hence the listing of how many extras, horses, and ect that were listed in the advertisements and posters as we saw in class. It was supposed to be a spectacle. something the audience could gape at, hence also the 70mm film used. I find it interesting in that the historical epics focused mostly on decadent rome, rather than say the medieval period of history, after all there is no shortage of material to be found in the stories of richard the lion heart or the battle of hasting or Agincourt. The most famous epics though , were those which focused on rome, rome being another civilization that loved spectacle in the coliseum. So we went from watching actual bloodsport in arenas to two thousand or so years later, watching recreations of battles and bloodshed, enjoying the same spectacle without the actual killing. How far we have come. If I sound like I dislike historical epics, that not what I intend. I actually love them. I am a sucker for history and the Roman period is possibly my favorite, so the giant battles organized with extras and in the case of sparticus , actual Spanish soldiers is amazing to see. It is one thing to see a movie today, and watch a cgi army marching around the screen. It is another thing entirely to see actual thousands marching in formation, scurrying about streets in the background and cheering in a stadium. It does not feel quite the same. I wish these days it were possible and feasible to make an epic of this sort. I was sorely disappointed with the new Ben Hur, I suppose when it was originally announced I assumed that Hollywood had finally decided to put huge money into an epic again. Clearly I was too optimistic, it was not a bad movie, however it lacked any of the grandeur of the original. It was simply a cash grab. I am nothing if not cynical about hollywood but I still have hopes occasionally. I just wish we could escape the current trend of never ending superhero movies being the only thing studios are willing to spend big cash on. To get back to the topic at hand a bit, I was deeply impressed by the effects on display in the ten commandments, although they look silly these days, I can only imagine the tons of work that went into editing and creating those composite shots and such. It must have been incredibly laborious at the time. I would give anything for a movie these days to impress me with it effects.

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  25. OOR ⋅

    It was interesting taking about the Hollywood movies that I could learn about the history. Learning the strategy how the Hollywood movies make a lot of money is constructed really well that they make the vertical integration first, and make produce formula of making movie that they think about the star value that selecting good actors and focus on characteristics, production value think about the screen sets and CG productions that if they are really creative, the movie will be awesome, and story value that topicality especially if the story is less creative even though the production value is great, people don’t watch that film. The movie such as sunset boulevard is great Hollywood movie I think because the movie accept or clear 3 values of the produce formula. Also, learning about the Hollywood movie and other countries data of the movie productions that I was surprised that India and Nigeria is the top two of the number of movie produced. I thought America is ranked either top first or second, but it is not, but the revenue of the movie production is number one. Also, the biggest market in revenues for American films are china and Japan that I was surprised and we watch a lot of Hollywood movies.

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  26. mkt18 ⋅

    I did not know much bout the Hollywood historical epic. Actually I do not like historical story. I watched. I learned the historical epics need high budget. I can understand this because the charactor of epics wear gorgeous clothes. Also, the produce have to make landscape to fit the era of epic. Everything like clothes and building does not exist when the producer film the movie, it requires high budget. The film of Ben-Hur was interesting. I did not know about this epic. I feel that filming the historical epic is difficult. Because the producer has to follow the story which is exsited for a long time, so he\she cannot change story easily.

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  27. wakarinai ⋅

    Historical epics are hit or miss from what I know of them and have seen in my life time. For example the Old Ben Hur was good, but the new one in my opinion was not so good at all. Remakes, however, usually arent movies that I enjoy as often as the original though so please excuse my bias.
    After the class I had to go back and watch Cleopatra, and honestly it was god awful. Historically inaccurate, and I did not like the acting in it. But as stated in class it did make history for being the flop that caused the end of the golden era of film in the united states.

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  28. dinerbears ⋅

    In the Hollywood’s historical epic, I feel this secession is interesting because understand the market behind movie and how it relates with. In the Hollywood’s historical epic most of films are hero and has fighting scene on it. Also Hollywood might remake new epic after few years or adaptation. This mean Hollywood produce a lot of classical movie that make audience want to watch and watch over again. The do not need to like B movie need to talk about some controversial issue or need to nudity to catch audience attention because they are classic movie so they only targeted mass audience not the small group of people. Of course their budget is higher than other B movie. I am surprise when we watch the 10 commandments during the class time I am surprise their technology part even thought now the day we watched we might feel the skill is terrible but at that time this might be the best special effect at that time.

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  29. mkt18 ⋅

    The Hollywood histrolical epic is good genre and successful business i thought. Becuse many epics are remaked. I watched Othello in other class. Not only story i could enjoy the landscape of it. It was interesting. Also after class I watched Cleopatra. As you know the main actress was hired very expensive, she was really beautiful. For me, historical epic is a trip where I have never known. Through watching epics, I could know about how they live at that era. The epic gives me opportunity to know things before I was born. I did not watch many epics, but now I want to watch other epics

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