Counter Cinema refers to the plethora of genres of movies which stand in opposition to the mainstream formalistic and ideological domination of Hollywood cinema. It means that discursive means and methods are consciously followed, and offers an alternative discourse to mainstream cinema. They offer a different mode of representation as opposed to mainstream Hollywood cinema.
Beginning & Progress
Counter cinema can be said to have developed in the 1960’s in Hollywood. Most of the conventional Hollywood cinema was directed towards a specific audience, mainly white people. Most of the actors and collaborators were white. There was hardly any representation of different cultures. Cultural and racial stereotypes ran deep various factors such as films being perceived as political weapons in the backdrop of political uprisings, revolutions and a massively strong leftist movement all over the world. Counter cinema was coupled with the rise of movements like feminism, civil rights and the rise in the influence various cultures and races contributed towards the rise of counter cinema. This movement started with the Third Cinema film movement which focused on Latin America and criticize neocolonialism, capitalism and Hollywood cinema which gave way to the inclusion of other types of cinema and representation.
Counter Cinema is not single, homogenous theory that strives to make unconventional movies. It is not a single concept. It includes a plethora of film genres, camera angles and shooting techniques, script-writing, inclusion of cultural and racial aspects; feminist ideologies and a focus towards a wider audience with emphasis on minorities and non-white population. Conscious efforts are made in the depictions of women, events, situations and culture that made the cinema more realistic. Counter Cinema includes Third World cinema, women’s cinema, documentaries, narrative cinema, avant-garde, art cinema etc.; it encompasses a wide range of cinema and techniques.
Counter Cinema Techniques
Counter Cinema is used in many ways, be it as a political weapon or an agenda. They oppose linear structures of mainstream cinema and often deal with issues that perpetuate cinematic realism, cultural stereotypes, sexism, capitalism and neocolonialism. It can be seen as a revolution within the sphere of cinema wherein, according to Claire Johnson, “alternative forms and experimental techniques” are used to “encourage audiences to critique the seemingly transparent images on the screen and to question the manipulative techniques of filming and editing.” While most mainstream cinema caters to the ‘male gaze’, counter cinema caters to a wider audience.
‘Weekend’ is a black comedy film directed by Jean-Luc Godard. It follows the lives of French, upper class married couple Roland and Corrine. They both have their own secret lovers and plan to kill each other. A trip to the countryside goes haywire as they encounter weird characters and accidents. When they finally reach Corine’s parents’ home, her mother effuses to give her share of the inheritance. So they both murder her and escape only to encounter a group of hippies, at which point the movie ends.
Thus, Counter Cinema gives a wide variety of alternatives to mainstream Hollywood cinema. Even though some argue that it is still funded and dominated by the same perpetrators of mainstream cinema, it cannot be denied that counter cinema has revolutionized cinema for the better.
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