Thursday, March 19, 2020

Explore the phenomenal box office success of blockbuster films Jaws and Star Wars and how they forever changed the film making industry Essays

Explore the phenomenal box office success of blockbuster films Jaws and Star Wars and how they forever changed the film making industry Essays Explore the phenomenal box office success of blockbuster films Jaws and Star Wars and how they forever changed the film making industry Paper Explore the phenomenal box office success of blockbuster films Jaws and Star Wars and how they forever changed the film making industry Paper Essay Topic: Jaws Contemporary cinema today is a fierce market. Most Fridays of the week see a new release featuring our favourite stars on the big screen, in the next highly anticipated movie. The seasons, Summer and Winter also see the years biggest movies hit the screen in order to satisfy our entertainment needs. However, the movie industry hasnt always operated in this way. In the early stages of cinema, our much loved multi million dollar Blockbusters were only a thing of dreams, from the incredible special effects to the massive budgets. This essay aims to explore the impact of Blockbuster films and how they have changed modern cinema, with reference to the hugely popular Star Wars franchise, and the Jaws movies. The essay will also explore the effects these films have left on popular culture, and if they still exist today.The term blockbuster simply defines as a form of media that sustains widespread popularity, achieves enormous sales figures and creates a cultural phenomenon. The beginning o f this new blockbuster era was pioneered by, Steven Spielbergs Jaws and George Lucas Star Wars franchise, both of which were released in the 1970s. The movie Jaws is about a number of shark attacks taking place on the beaches of the U.S.A, in which a $3000 bounty is offered for the animal, in which sparks off a frenzy of people attempting to hunt for the shark. The Star Wars movies tell the story of Luke Skywalker, and his fight against the evil Darth Vader and the Empires efforts to rule the galaxy.Both movies were a huge success, with Jaws being the first movie to earn over $100 million dollars at the box office, and eventually grossing over $470 million dollars worldwide. Star Wars however topped its success, by earning around $775 million dollars worldwide. Before these films, the term Blockbuster simply described the film by box office sales success, rather than its cultural phenomenon and influence on other mediums.One way in which these films changed the film making industry was through the way of merchandising. If the actual movies themselves didnt make enough money (despite doing so), the merchandise for each film would have helped. Merchandise ranges from action figures to video games to sequels and soundtracks (in which John Williams composed the soundtracks to both films). The soundtracks themselves are easily recognisable when listened to, and are so around the world. The iconic string section in Jaws when the shark is ready to hunt down its prey, to the grand orchestral opener to Star Wars, as the introduction rolls down the screen.According to, movie music before these films, soundtracks had begun to take on pop route and avoid orchestral music, until the score for Star Wars was written. The themes such as the title music and the imperial march are something of a cultural nature due to their popularity. For example, if anyone was to imitate the tune, we as a culture associate this with bad news or a bad person. The soundtrack has been released a total of six times, with re-mastered tracks and additional audio tracks. Even a disco version of the song was mixed and played in clubs a year after the films release. John Williams furthered his movie soundtrack career by providing soundtracks to countless movies, including Home Alone, Superman and the Harry Potter Movies.Altogether since 1977, Star Wars merchandise alone earned around $13.5 billion (NPR News 2007) in retail sales. Dale Pollock (author of Skywalking, an unauthorised biography of George Lucas) stated that It was much more than just action figures and toy sets It was merchandise in more variety and volume that Hollywood had ever seen. (Pollock, D, 1999). For the first time in 1977, toy stores such as Toys R Us had shelf and isle space just for movie tie ins thanks to Star Wars merchandising. With products such as this available, it helps keep the franchise alive as more than just a film, and allows the consumer to be Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader and let the movie live on. The merchandising continues today, as more and more various products are made, such as video games like the Lego Star Wars series, and further toys and action figures from the prequel films made in the 2000s. This form of mass merchandising is still happening today with other blockbuster movies, such as Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) movies and The Dark Knight (2008).The impact that these movies have left on popular culture, are also a force to be reckoned with. Both movies are frequently parodied in other forms of media. For example, the T.V series Family Guy frequently parodies the Star Wars trilogy in various episodes. Also, the T.V show dedicated a whole 45 minute, special episode named Blue Harvest, which parodies the whole of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and are currently working on finishing up the parody trilogy by repeating this with the remaining two movies.With this in mind, we can use this example and relate it to Christian Metzs (1974) theor y of genre cycle changes. He argued that through a genres lifetime, it would go through 4 stages of changes, which can be down to technology (introduction of sound and colour) or contemporary issues (World War I, II, AIDS, Terrorism etc). These include the Experimental Stage, The Classic Stage, The Parody Stage and The Deconstruction stage. Metz suggested that the Experimental movies were very early on, and dynamic in which case we could use Frtiz Langs 1927 movie, Metropolis. Star Wars would then fit into the Classic stage, as the successful codes and conventions of early sci-fi films are taken and built on until made more formulaic. The parody stage is where the films clichà ¯Ã‚ ¿Ã‚ ½s are made fun of or to re-engage with the audience, in which we can use the previous example of Family Guy, or Mel Brooks sci-fi comedy, Spaceballs. The Deconstruction stage is when the generic elements are placed out of context, for example, Kurt Wimmers Equilibrium (2002), where the mise en scene is sci-fi, yet the story is dealing with other issues, such as emotion and fascism.A strong sense of Star Wars popular culture impact was discovered in the British 2001 census. An Internet campaign that spread via email encouraged the public to identify their religion as Jedi or Jedi Knight in the other religion section. According to the BBC, the number of people in the U.K that were faithful to the Jedi religion that year was around 390,000 strong.Both movies also showed new technological innovations and furthered some already used.Jaws used rare filming techniques such as the reverse dolly zoom, originally used in Alfred Hitchcocks movies. This is when the dolly on which the camera is held moves backward on its track, whilst the camera zooms in on the face. This is used when Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) spots danger in the sea during the beach scene. Special effects were further improved with the use of animatronics. The mechanical shark, named Bruce (Times online) was actually three sharks, used for different movements. One of these was just for use in the water, improving technical areas of special effects.Star Wars special effects however have changed the movie industry forever. The effects used in the movie were way ahead of its time and have set a certain standard for future film productions.The use of foley sound is one of these. Foley sound is when sounds effects are recorded in a studio and then later placed in the film. For example, the sound of the Tie Fighter spaceships in the movie are actually noises of a bellowing Elephant and the sound of the character Jabba The Hut moving is actually the sounds of a trash can filled with wet towels.Throughout the film, Lucas used a variety of special effects techniques, new and old combined. From the use of puppets, animatronics and stop motion animation, to the use of green screen and CGI. People were willing to pay the ticket price to simply witness in awe the effects that Lucas had brought to t he screen with his special effects production company, Industrial Light and Magic. This company in itself has had a massive impact on the movie industry alone, regardless of the Star Wars movies, as it has provided special effects for countless movies and Hollywood Blockbusters. These include E.T, Star Trek Movies, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Jurassic Park and Men In Black just to name a few from Industrial Light and Magics impressive C.V. These movies clearly range from the origins of sci-fi that they were created to work for, and are now a more general company rather than a niche in the sci-fi genre. The movie trilogy also created the company Skywalker Sound, that have also progressed to work on such movies as Speed (1994), Forrest Gump (1994), Titanic (1997), Fight Club (1999) and even video games, such as Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008) and the Mercenaries (2005) games series. Therefore without Star Wars, these effects companies wouldnt have helped create films thro ugh time.Although with this in mind, many re releases of the original Star Wars trilogy have been issued with improved Special effects, CGI and sound. These are included years later in the special edition video and DVD versions. George Lucas stated that There were various things I wasnt happy with, special effects, scenes that hadnt been included due to money and time. (Star Wars Special Edition Video Interview). Many hardcore Star Wars fans and purists argue that the films shouldnt have been tampered with and left alone, however if they had not been restored, the original films would have deteriorated with age. Also from the same video, Rick McCallum, the producer of the special edition video stated that: if they had not been restored for this particular edition, they might not have been available ever again.With other versions of these films in mind, fans of the original Star Wars trilogy became very critical when regarding the later made prequels of the movies, especially episode I, The Phantom Menace (1999). A re edited version of the movie was created entitled, Episode 1.1: The Phantom Edit, that was allegedly better than Lucas version. The revised version contained the more promising footage from the movie. Tapes of the movie were quickly circulated through the underground scene of die-hard Star Wars fanatics.However, although with special effects making the visuals impressive, we could say that this could diminish the plots and storylines to these films.We could apply this with Vladimir Propp (1928) theory on narrative structures. He studied the narrative structures of Russian folk tales and discovered that regardless of individual differences in plot, settings, genre etc such narratives share common features, particularly character types. I shall apply his list of character types to the Star Wars movies (although may change over the course of the trilogy) in the table below.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Argentavis - Facts and Figures

Argentavis - Facts and Figures Name: Argentavis (Greek for Argentina bird); pronounced ARE-jen-TAY-viss Habitat: Skies of South America Historical Epoch: Late Miocene (6 million years ago) Size and Weight: 23-foot wingspan and up to 200 pounds Diet: Meat Distinguishing Characteristics: Enormous wingspan; long legs and feet About Argentavis Just how big was Argentavis? To put things in perspective, one of the largest flying birds alive today is the Andean Condor, which has a wingspan of nine feet and weighs about 25 pounds. By comparison, the wingspan of Argentavis was comparable to that of a small planeclose to 25 feet from tip to tipand it weighed anywhere between 150 and 250 pounds. By these tokens, Argentavis is best compared not to other prehistoric birds, which tended to be much more modestly scaled, but to the huge pterosaurs that preceded it by 60 million years, notably the giant Quetzalcoatlus  (which had a wingspan of up to 35 feet). Given its enormous size, you might assume that Argentavis was the top bird of Miocene South America, about six million years ago. However, at this time, terror birds were still thick on the ground, including descendants of the slightly earlier Phorusrhacos and Kelenken. These flightless birds were built like meat-eating dinosaurs, complete with long legs, grasping hands, and sharp beaks that they wielded on their prey like hatchets. Argentavis probably kept a wary distance from these terror birds (and vice-versa), but it may well have raided their hard-won kill from above, like some kind of oversized flying hyena. A flying animal the size of Argentavis presents some difficult issues, chief of which is how this prehistoric bird managed to a) launch itself off the ground and b) keep itself in the air once launched. Its now believed that Argentavis took off and flew like a pterosaur, unfurling its wings (but only rarely flapping them) in order to catch the high-altitude air currents above its South American habitat. Its still unknown if Argentavis was an active predator of the huge mammals of late Miocene South America, or if, like a vulture, it contented itself with scavenging already-dead corpses; all we can say for sure is that it was definitely not a pelagic (sea-flying) bird like modern seagulls, since its fossils were discovered in the interior of Argentina. As with its style of flight, paleontologists have made a lot of educated guesses about Argentavis, most of which, unfortunately, are not supported by direct fossil evidence. For example, analogy with similarly built modern birds suggests that Argentavis laid very few eggs (perhaps an average of only one or two per year), which were carefully brooded by both parents, and presumably not subject to frequent predation by hungry mammals. Hatchlings probably left the nest after about 16 months, and were only fully grown by the age of 10 or 12; most controversially, some naturalists have suggested that Argentavis could attain a maximum age of 100 years, about the same as modern (and much smaller) parrots, which are already among the longest-lived vertebrates on earth.