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A Decade Under the Influence

22 customer reviews

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(Sep 30, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The 1970s was an extraordinary time of rebellion. As political activism, the sexual revolution, the women's movement, and the music revolution contributed to social unrest across America, American cinema witnessed the emergence of a new generation of fil

How did Hollywood make so many great, challenging, offbeat films in the 1970s? A Decade Under the Influence lists the reasons--or rather, lets the people who did the filmmaking list the reasons. The decade-shaping interviewees include Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Francis Coppola, et al. The film's argument has actually been conventional wisdom for at least 10 years, but it's well-supported by an abundance of clips, which should inspire even hardcore film buffs to seek out rarities such as Thunderbolt and Lightfoot or The King of Marvin Gardens. One might observe that the scarcity of women directors or black filmmakers suggests that the decade was not entirely golden, and the memories may be burnished a bit by nostalgia. But there's no question that the big studios were far more adventurous back then, and this briskly moving survey gives a lively Film 101 lecture in exactly why. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Additional interview footage with Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, Sidney Lumet, Roy Scheider, and others
  • Filmmaker bios

Product Details

  • Actors: Francis Ford Coppola, William Friedkin, Steven Soderbergh, Robert Altman, John G. Avildsen
  • Directors: Richard LaGravenese, Ted Demme
  • Producers: Alison Palmer Bourke, Caroline Kaplan, Gini Reticker, Jerry Kupfer, John Miller-Monzon
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: September 30, 2003
  • Run Time: 138 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AKY7F
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,605 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Decade Under the Influence" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Jared on February 10, 2005
Format: DVD
It is apparent to me that those that don't appreciate this documentary are missing out, and misleading potential buyers, on a great piece of filmmaking. How many films include Coppola, Hopper, Scorsese, Lumet, Christie, among others in a documentary?

The film illuminates on the profound and revolutionary techniques by these "student mentality" (meaning innovative) filmmakers and actors. It is such an interesting and hip documentary handled with care, with a great soundtrack and cool, and surprising, clips.

Those that want to grow as a filmmaker should watch and heed the words of these film icons. Sure, it's nostalgic, but it should be; a film involving the free-ing spirit of '70s films.

It'd be interesting if it included more nudity from the various influential films. Regardless, it is a wonderful companion to any aspiring filmmaker, and much better than Easy Riders Raging Bulls, which focuses too much on the excess of the era.

A Decade Under the Influence shows even the artistry of the money-making Corman, along the next generation of filmmakers! Great film! Deserves more praise from Amazon!
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105 of 134 people found the following review helpful By El Kabong on September 23, 2003
Format: DVD
The problems with both ADUTI and the similar doc EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS are: they are generally fawning in tone; they play fast-and-loose with the truth by presenting only selected bits of film history; and - most importantly - they attempt to explain the zeitgeist of the 70s by restricting their view only to movies, when movies are (and have always been) a milk container in the cultural icebox...taking the flavor of whatever's sitting next to it. The 'counterculture', or 'new aesthetic' (or however you want to phrase it) lasted longer and more meaningfully in other media (music, art, fiction) where there was substantially less money being invested. I love many late 60s/70s fact, that whole era is genuinely fascinating...but 'explaining', or just examining in depth, that window in time is more properly the domain of a Ken Burns-length documentary series. (You'd need 10-15 hours just to take in the full view.) And blaming everything that didn't work or fell apart on either drugs, JAWS, STAR WARS, or all three, is as pat and false as showing a married couple sleeping in twin beds during the heyday of the Production Code.
For instance, Bogdanovich is trotted out like a High Lama of Personal Cinema but the audience never gets the sense of how his lousy old-Hollywood imitations like AT LONG LAST LOVE and NICKELODEON catastrophically imploded his career, right in the middle of that halcyon decade (and STAR WARS didn't have a blessed thing to do with it). We get clips from DIRTY HARRY and MAGNUM FORCE, as if Eastwood's proto-fascist genuflections before Ruthless Authority were somehow considered hip and edgy by the intelligentsia of the decade, when they were uniformly bemoaned and despised.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on August 20, 2006
Format: DVD
"Cinematic success is not necessarily the result of good brain work but of a harmony of existing elements in ourselves that we may not have ever been conscious of, an accidental coincidence of our own preoccupations and the public's."
-Francois Truffaut, FILMS IN MY LIFE

This quote appears at the beginning of the first of the three episodes that comprise the docudrama A DECADE UNDER THE INFLUENCE. Even before the New Wave film makers like Godard and Truffaut, however, France of course had an established film history and an established history of intellectual discourse on film that went back at least as far as Renoir (who described cinema as a state of mind). Or to say that in a slightly different way the French do not just value individual films they value cinema and revere it as an art form on par with all of the other art forms and the French over the years have evolved a way of talking about cinema and theorizing cinema in an intelligent and insightful way. Thats something that America has never really had. We've had a few interesting film critics but criticism is not the same as thoughtful analysis of an art form. If you watch a documentary about French film you are going to get a very theoretical discussion going but American documentaries can not get away from telling the history of cinema from the cash angle. It is ironic because the film makers who made A DECADE UNDER THE INFLUENCE seem to be driven by a desire to answer the question why American films in the seventies were so good and why films now are so bad, but the documentarians are only interested in those independent films that made money and thus have some kind of noteriety and so they never abandon the cash angle.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By DJ Joe Sixpack HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 23, 2003
Format: DVD
This quick, glitzy documentary, which looks at the maverick filmmaking that reshaped Hollywood in the late 1960s and throughout the '70s, has its ups and downs. At first I thought the lack of a central narrative voice, "telling" us what we're supposed to know, was kind of cool: "Yeah," I thought, "We're smart enough to understand what happened, and all these intelligent, thoughtful rebel filmmakers -- Coppola, Scorcese, Altman, Hopper, Dern, Eastwood, et al. -- can guide us through the history better than any dumb old narrator can... After all, they *lived* it, man...!!" But, sadly, this was not true: by the end of the three segments, I felt a little lost, and even a little cheated... I wasn't really sure what these advocates of independent cinema were trying to tell me, and while the parade of film clips and archival artwork (wish I'd taken notes!) was entertaining, it wasn't particularly well contextualized. The story arc, as such, was that Hollywood, having lost its bearings (and ability to produce hit movies) by the mid-1960s, almost accidentally discovered the rich offerings of low-budget, independent cinema. Suddenly, young, unproven writers and directors were given unfettered creative license, and throughout the 1970s they pushed the boundaries of artistic expression, breaking down taboos against exploring sexual, political and drug-related themes, as well as demolishing the boundaries of language and onscreen violence. Then, as the '80s opened, the push towards producing blockbuster hits reestablished the dominance of the old studio system. But the material between these central points is a diffuse parade of spectacle and insider asides, not as well structured or as informative as it could have been.
Also, on a technical note, why was the DVD version so hard to navigate? What was up with having to start up each segment of this film separately? Watching it on VHS might actually have been more rewarding...
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