Tried, Tested, and Transnational

The evolution of film has seen a paradigm shift from what was formally known as World Cinema, to what is now known as Transnational Cinema. Films were previously sorted into various national boxes, which resulted in censorship boundaries restricting films to one nation. However, with the emergence of national film industries, this changed drastically. A national literature is ‘secure behind the Great Wall of the native language, but films from the outset were primed to invade foreign screens’ (Dudley, 2004) – and they did exactly that!

The topic of World Cinema can be directly linked to that of World Music. With American, Asian and Australian music and films being excluded from the World Cinema and Music genre, we are basically left with films that do not belong anywhere else. However, with the end of the Cold War in 1991, the European Union being formed, new technologies emerging and filmmakers becoming increasingly itinerant, there was a major shift in the film industry that resulted in the hybridization of local content to achieve globalization.

It appears that India, or Bollywood as it is commonly known, has the best chance of challenging Hollywood’s dominance of the film industry. There is an increasing demand for Indian, as well as Asian films on a global scale. Many modern day films are actually adaptations of Asian films and Indian culture.

Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs is an adaptation of City on Fire, Scorcese’s The Departed bears striking similarities to Internal Affairs, and Lucas’ epic space opera Star Wars was heavily influenced by 1958 classic The Hidden Fortress.

Shaefer and Karan (2010) discuss this issue in relation to James Cameron’s science fiction hit Avatar. Although Cameron incorporated Native-American and ancient Hindu concepts in his film, he was respectful enough to fully acknowledge the cultural origins of the film.

Many films are adaptations of Asian or Indian films, which bodes the question of whether it is borrowing, or if it is plagiarism? The transnational film industry is rich, diverse, and allows for culturally hybrid films. Although many films do tread a fine line between adaptations and plagiarism, this does provide scope for cultural interaction and recognition of overseas film industries.


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