Stories From a Century of Movie MakingAired January 4, 2000 - 2:47 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: One-hundred years ago, believe it or not, the movie camera was a novelty and Hollywood consisted of just a few homes in the hills outside of L.A.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: And what difference a century makes.
CNN's Sherri Sylvester, now, takes us to the movies.
SHERRI SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Film is a 20th century art form; just a blip in the millennium, really. But its concept is as old as time, telling a story that speaks to us, the strangers in the dark. There are craftsman who have reshaped the form and, in doing so, advanced the art. This is their story.
CHARLTON HESTON, ACTOR: They were originally going to shoot it in Arizona, and they stopped there and it was pouring rain. And DeMille got off the train and he said: This is ridiculous. We can't make a Western here. He said: Get on the train. We'll go to the end of the line. The end of the line, of course, was Los Angeles.
SYLVESTER: Cecil B. DeMille's 1914 Western, "The Squaw Man," was Hollywood's first hit. The city that would become the world's entertainment capital then offered endless sunlight.
MARTIN SCORSESE, FILMMAKER: You have to go back to the very beginning. You have to go back to this man named D.W. Griffith who gave us the vocabulary of cinema and made up, you know, the close-up, the tracking shots.
SYLVESTER: With "The Birth of a Nation" in 1915, D.W. Griffith created art, commerce and controversy. Critics called his three-hour epic racist, but his complex production values were unheard of for the time, as was the film's $2 ticket price.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was instrumental in transforming movies from a Nickelodeon novelty to an art form.
SYLVESTER: While Griffith was making epics, Charlie Chaplin focused on the dilemmas of the common man. He was the writer, director, producer, and star of his stories, and often used the same ensemble of players. WOODY ALLEN, FILMMAKER: Of course, a huge influence on the entire cinema, on the way stories are told and comedy and filmmaking in general. You know, he was very innovative and very, very brilliant.
SYLVESTER: By 1930, Hollywood's annual budget hit $850 million. Entertainment was the great escape. Even during the Depression, 80 million people a week bought tickets.
SCORSESE: Everything in the silent period Griffith did, and everything in the sound period Welles did -- Orson Welles.
STEVEN SPIELBERG, FILMMAKER: You have to understand that beyond the craft of "Citizen Kane," it was the birth of the independent movie. So "Citizen Kane" was the greatest independent film ever made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CITIZEN KANE")
ORSON WELLES, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: Rosebud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER: Twenty-six-year-old director Orson Welles was given total creative control over his 1941 feature. His unique camera angles illustrated a dark side of the American dream. "Citizen Kane" was considered a masterpiece; the filmmaker, a boy wonder.
TIPPY HEDREN: I think he had the most wonderful capabilities of manipulating the audience, and involving the audience in the movies. You didn't just watch that -- those films, you became involved.
SYLVESTER: Alfred Hitchcock did not need special effects to scare his audience. Their own imaginations worked fine, but his mind games were meticulously planned. The master of suspense storyboarded each film, shot by shot, in advance.
Cinematic innovations in the '50s came from overseas. Italy's Federico Fellini, Sweden's Ingmar Bergman, and Japan's Akira Kurosawa were exploring new styles of storytelling. Hollywood was preoccupied with a new technology.
HESTON: Hollywood didn't know what to do with television. They thought it would go away, like the hula-hoop.
SYLVESTER: Hollywood lost 75 percent of the movie-going public to television. It took DeMille to deliver a spectacle too big for the small screen.
HESTON: "The Ten Commandments" was arguably the first of the big epics. We had "Bridge Over the River Kwai," we had "Lawrence of Arabia," we had "Ben Hur," "Spartacus."
SYLVESTER: 1960's "Spartacus" launched the career of its director.
SYDNEY POLLACK, DIRECTOR: There was nobody else who saw life exactly the way Stanley Kubrick saw life.
SYLVESTER: Kubrick took his epic visual style and painted the pictures of a bleak future.
POLLACK: His films all had this kind of immensely theatrical beginning. It was like a signature thing. I mean, "2001" isn't like any science-fiction movie you've ever seen in your life.
SYLVESTER: It was time for a rebellion, in society and in cinema. Anti-establishment and anti-Hollywood films captured an untapped youth market with antiheroes. "Easy Rider," made for $400,000, grossed $50 million, and paved the way for a new wave of filmmakers.
Theirs was the film-school generation. Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg grew up with cameras, and idolized their predecessors. Over a 10-year period, they would create the indelible images of our time.
SPIELBERG: One of the things that benefited the movie was that the shark didn't work for so many months that I was -- I resorted to the Hitchcockian rule, which is basically shooting the water and suggesting the shark without showing it.
SYLVESTER: In 1975, Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" ushered in the era of the blockbuster. "Jaws" was an amusement ride that could be enjoyed over and over again. Forever after, event films could open in 2,000 theaters at once and spawn sequels. Their grosses would be reported to the public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "TAXI DRIVER")
ROBERT DENIRO, ACTOR: You talking to me? You talking to me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER: Far from the Hollywood formula, Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" was a violent ride through a twisted New York. The film's psychosis is mirrored by its unsteady camera, Scorsese reflecting an East Coast style.
JODIE FOSTER, ACTRESS: What makes him an auteur filmmaker is that he has this amazing signature stamp that carries through to all of his films, where you get to see his evolution psychologically in the same way that you see his evolution in film.
SCORSESE: George Lucas and myself, because we're so different, it's interesting. We were hanging out together a lot under the aegis, I should say, of Francis Coppola at the time, who was doing the "Godfather" films.
SPIELBERG: We all hung out together, and we would talk like this, you know. It was always kind of like, like, you know, to Al Pacino, "So what do you got coming out next?" "Oh, I did a picture with Francis Coppola called "The Godfather."" "Oh great, look forward to seeing that." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE GODFATHER")
MARLON BRANDO, ACTOR: I am going to make him an offer he can't refuse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER: Francis Ford Coppola took the gold reaped by his "Godfather" films and set up his own company, American Zoetrope. George Lucas was named his vice president. The astronomical cost of making and marketing films would break Zoetrope's bank, but Lucas on his own would achieve financial and artistic independence.
GEORGE LUCAS, DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: I wanted to, you know, create the whole thing myself, and I think that saved me. And then I just said, I'll starve and I'll do what I want to do, and I don't really care, and I'm glad I did that.
SYLVESTER: The box-office bite of "Jaws" was eclipsed by "Star Wars." The film became a franchise, and moviegoers found an appetite for souvenir merchandise -- billions of dollars worth. Lucas became an overnight conglomerate.
TOM HANKS, ACTOR: Steven is a genius, you know, and I would walk through hell in a gasoline suit to work with a good filmmaker like Steven.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SAVING PRIVATE RYAN")
HANKS: See you on the beach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER: Steven Spielberg has 25 years of success in this century. He paints on an epic canvas, using high-tech tools to tell personal stories.
HANKS: He's rewriting the book as he goes along, and he's continued to do that for every one of these movies. Every time another one comes along, he seems to have reached some other watermark.
SYLVESTER: The vocabulary of cinema written by D.W. Griffith continues to grow. Today's directors have given film new creative and economic dimensions. They're daring to dream, and making contact.
LUCAS: In the end, I'm just a storyteller telling a story.
SPIELBERG: I've always believed that I dream for a living.
SYLVESTER: Sherri Sylvester, CNN, Los Angeles.
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