Movies and Culture

Isha Chitre, Reporter

Since the emergence of Hollywood in the early 20th century, Americans have been quite proud of the nation’s influence in entertainment. Most of us look forward to a new “Star Wars” or “Mission Impossible” release, going so far as to stand in what seems like an infinitely long line, on a chilly, December day, waiting to claim our seats.


But this doesn’t just happen in America. In fact, a similar scenario unfolds on an international level.


Bollywood, India’s world-famous film industry, produces over a thousand films each year, reaching an audience of 2.7 billion, according to Forbes. In comparison, Hollywood produces approximately 600 films annually.


Senior Arshia Sharma, an avid Bollywood fan, loves Bollywood because of the  “songs, drama,  [and] dancing.” This is perhaps what Bollywood movies are characterized by – their unique musicality and whimsical storytelling techniques.


When comparing Bollywood and Hollywood movies, the differences are quite evident in subtleties such as dialogue and cinematography styles. Dialogue, whose main purpose is to communicate information in a concise manner in Hollywood films, is used as a form of artistic expression in Bollywood films, as screenwriters often strive to create poetic speech.


Within the magnitude of Bollywood movies being produced each year, several films showcase stories that take place in America. However, according to Sharma, “Most of the (Bollywood) movies may be in America, but they don’t really focus on the  (American) culture.”


Nevertheless, this isn’t quite the case in other foreign film industries, such as South Korea and Russia’s productions. In fact, Americans are often portrayed as the “bad guys.”


South Korea’s highest grossing film, “The Host,” is often recognized as a promoter of anti-American sentiment, due to its portrayal of the American military being indifferent towards the suffering people of South Korea. Additionally, Russia’s “Brothers 2” is also seen as a film with extreme nationalist values, as it discretely portrays Russian villains who are attempting  to mirror Americans.


If Hollywood is the largest film industry globally, why do these other industries’ portrayal of American culture affect us? Well perhaps neither South Korea nor Russia are home to the most economically influential film industries, but China certainly is.


According to CNN, Chinese films have certainly made big bucks at the box office, but have failed to make an artistic impact within the international film community. Why?


Perhaps this is due to the patriotic messages of Chinese films, which don’t connect to the international community.


“Wolf Warrior 2,” the story of a Chinese soldier who travels to a war zone, in order to save trapped Chinese workers, has made over a billion dollars at the box office. According to Hollywood directors Joe and Anthony Russo, “The movie has the look and feel of a typical Hollywood action flick. The difference is it features a Chinese hero saving Chinese citizens.”


CNN states that while “Wolf Warrior,” the film’s prequel, didn’t receive as much appreciation from audiences, “Wolf Warrior 2” certainly appealed to viewers’ patriotism. In fact, the film’s tagline is, “Whoever offends China will be hunted down and punished wherever they are.”


And that is the goal of the Chinese, and of all foreign film industries for that matter – to become the leading force in entertainment.


But when was the last time you watched a foreign film? The truth is that foreign films are struggling to find an audience internationally, and losing a national audience as well.


Indiewire, a leading source for news regarding the film industry, attributes this to the growing presence of Hollywood. As Hollywood strives to attract an international audience through making films with universal themes rather than American culture, viewers of foreign films are gradually walking towards them.


Obviously if this trend continues, it will result in the gradual fall of foreign film industries, limiting our exposure to other cultures.


Because let’s face it – one film industry, regardless of its production value,  will never be able to accurately represent the diversity and cultural richness of the globe.