A New Golden Age

Writer: Ella Salome

Illustrator: Anonymous

The phrase ‘golden age cinema’ often makes you think of black and white films, tragic romance and dramatic one-liners. The classics like Casablanca have lasted through the decades, but there’s some pretty stiff competition out there today.

Budgets have never been so massive for Hollywood movies. The production values on even the b-grade movies being released today were unimaginable fifty years ago. And it’s not all about the budget either. The emergence of new, more accessible technology over the last ten years has fostered a new generation of independent films.

On top of the leaps and bounds that cinema takes every year, we are witnessing the most well written, carefully produced television programming in history. Even though there are more and more mind-numbing reality TV shows popping up everywhere, there are also series like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Game of Thrones and Sherlock, which are pushing the evolution of screenwriting in a new direction. We are living in a new golden age of cinema and television.

Perhaps the best thing about the age of entertainment we live in is that you don’t have to like everything on TV, since we are spoilt for choice. If you’re passionate about 60s period drama, I can think of at least four good shows to recommend, right now, off the top of my head. If all you ever cared about was documentaries about rock formations, well there’s plenty out there. Psychological thrillers? Hundreds going around. Model train making? Yep. There’s something for everyone, and it’s easily accessible.

Some of the most famous movie directors in the world are making the shift into television. More and more we are seeing carefully paced, slow moving but intense stories played out over an eight episode mini-series, or even a full five seasons of thrilling drama. Steven Spielberg is producing Extant, a sci-fi TV series. Jane Campion, director of The Piano, which won three Oscars, directed a mini-series called Top of the Lake which was so beautifully shot that it won awards for outstanding cinematography. And these are just the televisual wonders that I have had time to seek out and watch. With a little thought and some careful googling I could find a new movie or show every day of the week that would perfectly appeal to my tastes. If that doesn’t equate to a golden age, I don’t know what does.

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Somehow the conditions right now are just right, we have found a perfect cultural climate for this amazing television and cinema. So what is that climate? And how long will it last? Well obviously the internet has a role to play in both of those questions. Distribution has never been so simple. The big TV networks aren’t the only ones who have a link to public now, so even the smaller shows and movies have a chance to build a huge fan base. This makes for a larger range of genres and styles because each show can find its niche audience, and vice versa.

But the internet may also have a role to play in the lessening of budgets. Since there is so much illegal downloading happening, especially in Australia, it may become harder for networks to justify big budget projects. But who knows, maybe that will lead to a surge of Kickstarter-funded indie masterpieces. Only time will tell.

Ella was editor of Hyde in 2014 and Editor in Chief in 2015.

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