Friday 30 September 2011

A Decade Under the Influence [2003]

Cinephiles from around the world agree that 1970’s ranks as a watershed moment in the history of American cinema. A host of socio-political factors, like relaxation of censorship codes, Vietnam War, Watergate Scandal, flower power, political angst, counter-culture, anti- establishmentarian spirit, etc., inspired the creation of a slew of groundbreaking movies that changed the landscape of American cinema. A Decade under the Influence is not so much a critical inquiry into this period as it is a nostalgic throwback for film aficionados in order for them to relive and/or be pushed towards that golden age of filmmaking. The documentary doesn’t just cover a plethora of such definitive classics as The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, Easy Rider, Annie Hall, Chinatown, Five Easy Pieces, Midnight Cowboy, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Mean Streets, M*A*S*H, Dog Day Afternoon, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The French Connection, Exorcist, Jaws, among numerous others, but also some of the directors and actors whose works left lasting imprints on lay-viewers and critics alike. The clinching aspect about the documentary is the host of interviews that the makers managed in securing with such legends as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Milos Forman, Sidney Lumet, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, Sidney Pollack, Dennis Hoppergjn, Julie Christie et al, to enrich us with their views and fond reminiscences. It is not without some curious omissions nor does it provide any significant critical insights, but its heartfelt tribute to 70’s cinema has made this a memorable work.

Director: Ted Demme & Richard LaGravenese
Genre: Documentary/Film History
Language: English
Country: US


Joel Bocko said...

I've wanted to see this for a while, but I have seen Easy Riders Raging Bulls which I enjoyed. The sense I've gotten is that it's more gossipy than A Decade Under the Influence though not nearly so much so as the book it was based on. Did you see that one and if so how did it compare with Decade?

Shubhajit said...

Sorry Joel, I couldn't get your question. Which movie/documentary you're asking me to compare with A Decade...?

Chris said...

I previously reviewed "A Decade Under the Influence", for me more informative than the documentary "Easy riders and Raging bulls" (2003)

Another reason for the success of 70s films, they gave young directors so much freedom because it made money back then.

I agree, the doc was not very critical, not all 70s films were good! And it did jump around a lot too.
A nice list of 70s films you compiled there, if you want to see some of my 70s film recommendations, do a CTRL+F search on my blog for: 197

is certainly a doc I want to revisit one day ( :

I tried clicking your Casablanca review, and drew a review is up today

Joel Bocko said...

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

Sam Juliano said...

I can't wait to see this! Just over the weekend when I watched my favorite film of the the 70's at Manhattan's Film Forum on the big screen (THE LAST PICTURE SHOW)I experienced a rush of the era's cinematic nostalgia, which also gave me an aching recollection of so many things I loved that are sadly gone. But as you note here in this excellent report, love for that period's movies are what drive it. Certainly those names speak for themselves!

Shubhajit said...


Yes, this isn't the kind of documentary that would help one in writing a thesis or a critique on 1970's cinema. Rather, it is for those who love(d) movies from that era, or wishing to be introduced to that era's movies.

Sure, I'll go through your write-ups on 70's movies. As for Casablanca, you're right, I haven't reviewed it at my blog, though I've seen it multiple times. I guess I ought to correct that sooner or later.

Shubhajit said...

@Joel Bocko:

And I was of the impression that you were mentioning about the movies Easy Riders & Raging Bulls as I wasn't aware of the documentary earlier, and so I was flummoxed by your comment :D

As for the book/documentary "Easy Riders & Raging Bulls", well, I haven't read/watched it, but now that you've introduced me to it, I sure am interested in getting hold of it.

Shubhajit said...

@Sam Juliano:

Yes, do watch this documentary, as I'm sure you'll like it. It certainly will help you relive your experiences of watching movies in the 70's. And I sure would like to hear from you as to how you've liked it after you've had a chance to have a go at it. Thanks for stopping by, Sam.