Documentary review: A Decade Under the Influence (2003)
A documentary which also works as an advertisement or appetizer for everything 70s. I loved the way they had many of the talented directors and actors of the time talking nostalgically and energetically in interviews clips about what the 70s movies meant to them, and how they perceived society, and so on.
An insightful feature length documentary. You can tell it was produced by the independent film channel, a bunch of lesser known indie films are mentioned or discussed. So many in fact I felt I needed to stop and write them down every 10 minutes! An example was Scorsese's Alice doesn't live here anymore (1974), which I subsequently watched, and liked.
The only thing missing for me maybe is for a distinction between what were the best and worst 70s films, here they seem to praise everything, which was different and shocking. They have directors talking about their most acclaimed work, and highlighting some key scenes from some of the movies, which is interesting.
An unusual perspective I thought was how stars from the 70s era were often not so good-looking, anybody could become a movie star. The story became the focus, looks were less important, as opposed to the contract based stars of the past. It was a time of rebellion, of questioning every accepted idea. Moviegoers were turning their backs on tired studio formulas, and wanted to watch stories they could relate to in their own lives.
I’ve watched the other 70s documentary, Easy riders Raging bulls (2003), but thought ‘A Decade Under the Influence’ had the most to offer. Although people seem to disagree, which of the two is best. I wouldn't suggest watching both, unless you are using it for educational reasons, as they cover a lot of the same ground.
If you are expecting to hear interviews of Clint Eastwood, Warren Beatty, and Steven Spielberg you will be disappointed, but a lot of other famous directors and actors are on board.
I got the feeling the piece was a little biased and trying to say there are not nearly as many talented, groundbreaking directors making their mark in the 2000s, and this I agree with to a certain extent. Although not all the stuff the 70s directors touched turned to gold, and likewise can be said about any generation. There is always good and bad, in all eras of film.
This documentary is very relatable today, I think studio executives could learn a thing or two here about giving filmmakers more creative freedom and not just thinking profit. Who knows, maybe the next audience rebellion has already started? It's hard to know if history will repeat itself and we will ever see another decade like the 70s. It would be great, if it did happen ( :
Anyway, well worth your time and enjoyable whether you are already an admirer of 70s films or a newcomer to the scene.
Readers, what are your favourite movies of the 70s ?