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From the New Wave to the New Hollywood: The Life Cycles of Important Movie Directors from Godard and Truffaut to Spielberg and Eastwood

Listed author(s):
  • David Galenson
  • Joshua Kotin

Two great movie directors were both born in 1930. One of them, Jean-Luc Godard, revolutionized filmmaking during his 30s, and declined in creativity thereafter. In contrast, Clint Eastwood did not direct his first movie until he had passed the age of 40, and did not emerge as an important director until after 60. This dramatic difference in life cycles was not accidental, but was a characteristic example of a pattern that has been identified across the arts: Godard was a conceptual innovator who peaked early, whereas Eastwood was an experimental innovator who improved with experience. This paper examines the goals, methods, and creative life cycles of Godard, Eastwood, and eight other directors who were the most important filmmakers of the second half of the twentieth century. Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Stephen Spielberg, and François Truffaut join Godard in the category of conceptual young geniuses, while Woody Allen, Robert Altman, John Cassavetes, and Martin Scorsese are classed with Eastwood as experimental old masters. In an era in which conceptual innovators have dominated a number of artistic activities, the strong representation of experimental innovators among the greatest film directors is an interesting phenomenon.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14150.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14150.

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Date of creation: Jun 2008
Publication status: published as David W. Galenson & Joshua Kotin, 2010. "From the New Wave to the New Hollywood," Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, vol 43(1), pages 29-44.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14150
Note: LS
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  1. David W. Galenson, 2006. "And Now for Something Completely Different: The Versatility of Conceptual Innovators," NBER Working Papers 12034, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. David W. Galenson & Joshua Kotin, 2005. "Filming Images or Filming Reality: The Life Cycles of Movie Directors from D.W. Griffith to Federico Fellini," NBER Working Papers 11486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David Galenson, 2007. "From "White Christmas" to Sgt. Pepper: The Conceptual Revolution in Popular Music," NBER Working Papers 13308, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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