Films of the 1950s

In the course of its development, cinematography has always performed a number of important social functions. Different films did not only entertain the public but also conveyed some essential concerns of people. The 1950s were the years of restoration for the majority of states because it was the post-war period. The current essay is focused on the main social and political moods of the fifties in the twentieth century in the world and in the United States, in particular. The paper also analyzes how four famous films, namely From Here to Eternity (1953), Sunset Blvd. (1950), Twelve Angry Men (1957) and On the Waterfront (1954) reveal the principles, main problems and misconceptions of the society of that time.

The films offered for analysts are different in their plots and topics. However, a deep analysis of those films demonstrates that each cinematographic work reveals some issues, which were the integral parts of the social and political life of the 1950s in the world and in the United States. Thus, Sunset Blvd. is a film about the dark and hidden side of Hollywood of that period. It was a dramatic shift from silent cinema to talkies and a tragedy for some film stars, who immediately felt unwanted. Such a film star, named Norma Desmond, hires a scriptwriter (Joe), whose screenplays are not accepted by Hollywood. Desmond hopes to return to a big stage, he manipulates and bribes Joe and later shoots him, when Norma understands that she will never become a film star again. Hollywood cinematography art entertained people all over the world and the analyzed film uncovers the real value of fame and prosperity of the actors and actresses in the 1950s.

Two other films also attract the attention of the viewers. Twelve Angry Men represent twelve jurors, who have to announce their verdict about the case of a boy from Puerto Rico. The discussion makes juries, who found him guilty at the very beginning, change their opinion in the end. Besides presenting the facts of the case and counterarguments, the jurors base their decisions on their individual prejudices, which were formed on the basis of the social moods of that time: “the slow-boiling film could also be viewed as a commentary on McCarthyism, Fascism, or Communism” ( ). These were the main threatening notions for the United States and its supporters under the influence of the Cold War: “The tension between the United States and the Soviet Union, known as the Cold War, was another defining element of the 1950s.” ( ). Twelve Angry Men is a metaphor of the American bias and contradictory juridical system.

On the Waterfront discusses the topic of corruption and violence, which existed in the circle of the longshoreman and expanded to other professions. Corruption was a serious problem for society back in the 1950s, when people were trying to restore their well-being and used all of the possible means for this process.

From Here to Eternity can be characterized as a story about romantic love in wartime: “The war levels the frustrating human experiences of the protagonists and creates many casualties – it is the culmination of all the smaller dramatic and relationship crises.” ( ). The United States did not enter World War II yet, but the American soldiers stayed in Hawaii and knew that they will most probably be involved in the military actions. At the same time, one of the officers started a romantic relationship with the captain’s wife and his friend is involved in an affair with a prostitute. As the war continued, people were still thinking about love and personal matters.

To conclude, it is important to note that the main association, which a person may have with the 1950s in world history, is that it was a period when people were returning back to normal lives after the Second World War. Four discussed films truly and naturally convey the moods of the people during that period in history. Anti-communist strategies in the USA and alien countries, radical changes of cinematography, corruption, people’s antagonism of military actions are the most important topics of discussion in the 1950s. Due to the fact that films have the potential to influence public opinion, it is important for all of them to be as meaningful as the analyzed movies.

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