Emergence of Violence in American Cinema

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, August 1996

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Cinematic violence has been in films since the start of movie making. From Orson Wells tearing up his estranged wives room in Citizen Kane to Anthony Perkins slicing up Vivian Leigh in Psycho, violence has always been present in film in one form or another. It was not until the late sixties and seventies that such visionaries as Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Sam Peckinpah, and William Friedken, to mention a few, came and put on film what was to become a trend in American cinema that would flourish until the present day. Graphic violence has become as important to film as the happy ending. The nineteen seventies was a time that filmmakers started to make extreme statements about our society and they often used extreme measures to achieve this.

To understand violence in film it is first wise to understand the MPAA. Founded in 1922, The Motion Picture Association of America's home page on the World Wide Web explains it like this, "we are the trade association of the American film industry whom have broadened it's mandate over the years to reflect the diversity of an expanding industry."

So in short, they say what can be put into a film and what cannot. It was not however until the late sixties that they started allowing the content in film to which we are accustomed today.

The MPAA had been run the same since 1922 and towards the end of the 1960's it was foolish of them to believe they could keep up with a system that was designed forty years previous. Jack Valenti, the current president of the MPAA, took his position in the company in 1966 and knew these changes had to occur. As he states in the MPAA internet site, "it would have been...