The World is Your Cinema



When we think of films, we generally conjure a picture of green screens, famous celebrities, universal studios and the Hollywood sign. This is definitely justified; according to Harvard business Review, Hollywood was responsible for 80% of films screened around the world by the 1930’s. It’s easy to forget that other countries around the world have their own film industries with a global audience so conditioned to American accents on our screens that our younger generation are beginning to adopt their phrases and mimic their expression. Films are an important aspect of the arts and a nation’s cultural identity, but are often overlooked and swallowed by Hollywood’s large shadow.

Globalisation has allowed for transnational film. Transnational, as opposed to national, is something that does not belong to one group in particular, however is representative of and incorporates elements from several different nations and cultures. This poses the question of where films belong. One film may contain actors of several different nationalities, scenes shot in locations around the world and the production process carried out in more than one country. Furthermore, films are altered before being shown in cinemas in another country to meet the desires of different consumer groups. Can all films be given ownership by a certain country, or are they becoming a globally owned product?

There are certainly recognisable characteristics in films from particular countries, such as Japanese anime or artistic French films. Certain countries are identified with particular genres, and a nation’s film industry therefore assists in shaping and conveying its culture. Hollywood films are unique in the fact that they dominate the market and are shown, and popular, in so many countries. Films unique to other countries are not as readily available throughout the world, if at all, and hardly any are screened in theatres outside their own nation.

Australia entered the film industry as a strong contender, producing the first feature length film in 1906, however Hollywood quickly overtook by booking out cinemas with their films and purchasing shares in film providers and cinemas. There was a revival of the Australian film industry in the 1970’s when the point of necessity for films as part of a countries expression was argued and the Australian government funded a film-making school. Australia has since produced films to assist the economy and promote tourism, such as with Baz Luhrmann’s aptly named Australia, however Australian films only account for less than five per cent of Australian box office showings.

So why does Hollywood dominate the film industry? Based on a strongly built industry that generates billions of dollars in revenue and includes multiple talent, their movies depict a Utopian world of coveted Western culture. Not only is Hollywood good at making films; they’re talented at selling them around the world. Stephen Galloway wrote on Foreign Policy:

Compared to Hollywood productions, foreign films don’t even play that well in their home markets. Despite the relative decline of America and a huge spurt of filmmaking in countries such as Brazil, China, and South Korea, Hollywood still dominates in box offices across the world…all of the world’s top 100 grossing films were Hollywood productions.”

While some countries are particular with what can be viewed in their country, such as China’s censorship on Hollywood films, other countries are no longer in control of what people can view due to online streaming and websites such as Netflix, opening the issue of access and copyright. With Hollywood films being so universal, perhaps all films are too, no matter where they come from.


How Hollywood Conquered the World (All Over Again)


An American World


Sending a message to someone across the other side of the globe, purchasing a plane ticket, even watching the news; these are all products of globalisation. A gradual process, globalisation has been assisted greatly by modern developments in technology and communication and is evidenced in everyday life.

Steger defines globalisation as “A multidimensional set of social processes that create, multiply, stretch and intensify worldwide social interdependencies and exchanges while at the same time fostering in people a growing awareness of deepening connections between the local and the distant” (2003). We now live in a global community, gifting us with abundant options and opportunities and simultaneously introducing issues on a worldwide scale, such as global warming and problems surrounding sustainability. It can be argued, however, that while globalisation has caused these problems to evolve and expand due to worldwide contribution, international connections and information will be helpful in finding solutions.

Canadian born Marshall McLuhan was the man who popularised, although did not devise, the concept of “the global village”. This is a concept focuses on the widely held notion that globalisation came to be through media, technology and communication and centres around a metaphorical central nervous system that connects everyone in the world. The title of “Global village” includes two seemingly opposing ideas, being the globe and the village, however clearly demonstrates globalisation. Interactions in the world as we know it emulate that of a village on a global scale.

While the term globalisation suggests a world-wide movement that is equally contributed to by all countries, many are referring to it as Americanisation. The United States are currently one of the most dominant countries in the world. Advances in technology and communication derived from first-world countries, American companies revolutionising products and services that have then spread throughout the world. Fast-food giant McDonald’s has retailers in over one hundred companies, serving around 69 million people every day. People living in developed countries can no longer go a day without seeing some sort of branding or advertising for Coca-Cola. American ways of life have seeped into multiple countries around the world, with a particular influence on developing countries, thus causing people to lament the loss of original culture in these countries.

Americanisation has resulted in a loss of smaller traditional communities, sacrificing unique ways of life, value systems and languages to the influence of the Western world. While Americanisation has been crucial for the survival of third world countries experiencing poverty and has improved living conditions for those living in these countries, many people hold the view that the Western world is taking over.Americanisation 2

The visual global village is a Utopian concept of people communicating and exchanging in harmony, maintaining a certain ratio in terms of contribution to the world. In reality, the beliefs and practices of the Western world are reshaping the culture of more vulnerable countries, leaving us to fear that one day we will wake up in a world that is all American.