Tuesday, April 7, 2009

You say you want a revolution: The Spirit of the 60's

The 60's. The decade that changed both cinema and music and drove them toward an expressive art form. When looking at film and music one must take into account just what was going on during that era. Peace rallies, protests of the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of JFK, etc. Let's not forget the turbulent year of 1968: the assassination of both Mart in Luther King, Robert Kennedy, The Tet Offensive and the Democractic Convention. The spirit of the decade in general was a reaction to the 50's which were very conservative.

Through these events, artists were coming up with some of their boldest and most striking staements. Beatlemania erupted and the British Invasion set in. The Beatles would end up creating albums like Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour which would further studio experimentation and give influence to countless bands in the decades to come. Led Zeppelin would takes American Blues and process it with heavy guitar riffs and massive drum grooves. Progressive rockers Pink Floyd would emerge as a psychadelia band with Piper At the Gates of Dawn. King Crimson would take this one step further with their debut album In the Court of the Crimson King. It was a time of experimentation in music. What we see going on in music is parallel to what was happening in film at the time.

1967, the same year Sgt. Pepper was released, saw the release of Bonnie and Clyde. It was a film that ended with a violent massacre at the end. The protagonists were the villians themselves. Another film, The Good the Bad and the Ugly saw the hero in the form of The Man With No Name, who by moral standards was in it for himself. By far the boldest statement in cinema during that time was a little old film by Stanley Kubrick called 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was a film that would lead to several theater walkouts and angered reactions from critics. The following year, a film called Easy Rider came out. It was regarded as the first independent film as it was made on a shoestring budget. At a time when the Hollywood studio system was on its way out, these filmmakers brought their vision and craft to the forefront and helped change the form.


1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) (I will do a full review on this movie in May, hopefully by then I will have experienced it properly...in a movie theater. I will say this though, the first time I saw it I didn't know what to make of it...after the 3rd viewing I liked enough to proclaim it as my favorite film of all time.)
2. Once Upon A Time In the West (1968)
I'm no big fan of Westerns but this film just OOZES cinema verite. The shot selections, the panoramics of landscape, the Ennio Morricone music....just amazing.
3. 8 1/2 (1963)
Federico Fellini's most daring film. One that is admired by countless directors and viewed as his masterpiece.
4. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
The scariest comedy of all time. The Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest we came to nuclear war at that time. Kubrick made a satire about it. There's no way they would make a film like this today.
5.The Wild Bunch (1969)
Sam Peckinpah's most recognized film is both an end to that era of Western films as well as an end of the old.
6. The Great Escape (1963)
There's something so cool about this film...oh yeah, it's Steve McQueen riding away from Nazis on a motorcycle.
7. Easy Rider (1969)
The first independent film.
8. Persona (1966)
Ingmar Bergman as his most structurally dense.
9. Breathless (1960)
The French New Wave of cinema started here with Jean Luc Godard's debut film.
9. The Graduate (1967)
"Are you trying to seduce me Mrs. Robinson?". The Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack coupled with Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross' performances are enough to make this a classic.
10. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)


Psycho (1960), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1967), Midnight Cowboy (1969)


1. The Beatles- Abbey Road (1969)*
2. The Beach Boys- Pet Sounds (1966)*
3. The Zombies- The Odessey and the Oracle (1968)*
4. The Beatles- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)*
5. The Who- Tommy (1969)*
6. Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention- We're Only In It For the Money (1968)*
7. The Doors- The Doors (1967)
8. King Crimson- In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
9. The Moody Blues- Days of Future Passed (1967)
10. Velvet Underground- Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)

*The 6 albums selected will be included in a list I will create later: My 100 Favorite albums.

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