This is a short paper I wrote for Film Analysis class. Nothing great.
By the 1970s, American films had overall become faster in pace and contain more action. Such can be found in two hit films: The French Connection and the first Star Wars.
In The French Connection, most scenes do not stretch for too long. The protagonist finds himself in the thick of one situation after another as he tirelessly hunts down a foreign drugdealer. hough the film was adapted from a non-fictional book, The French Connection narrates the events of the story through the actions of the protagonist. Dialogue is not abundant in this movie; there is more emphasis on driving the plot forward than the thoughts and feelings of the characters. This is notable in the scene where the protagonist almost catches the mastermind at the subway station. The actions of the main character speaks for itself, it is his undying resolve that brings him ever closer to his goal. His resolve resonates with the audience in the prominent train-car chase scene, the protagonist pressing on where the average person would have easily given up. Though the film is almost devoid of rapid, engaging music, the fast pace is enough to keep audiences at their seats. The movie climaxes just about where it ends: when the protagonist comes extremely close to finally catching the drugdealer honcho. That scene ends with a distant gunshot, leaving the startled audiences wondering what had happened. With that, the element of suspense carries itself all the way to the end.
The Star Wars movies have distinct evidence of the action-oriented nature of films of the decade. In fact, the very first two scenes of Star Wars: A New Hope contained battles between good and evil. Jumping right into physical conflict, the film opens on a high note and consistently delivers action scenes through the end. Most of the action scenes are the manifestations of hi-tech special effects at the time. The first shots of the film are of spaceships flying across space, giving a hint to the audience that they are in for a visual spectacle. This follows with a futuristic gunfight which results in casualties, though negligible. Adding to the grandeur of the opening sequence, the villain openly steps into the scene, revealing his place as the antagonist of the story. As the film unfolds the origins of the protagonist, every other scene contains some amount of action: from discovering his would-be mentor to getting off his home planet. To make things even more exciting, our hero and his companions find themselves in the very heart of enemy territory when they expected the safety of a friendly planet. While fighting to survive, the hero’s party undertakes a more dangerous challenge by choosing to rescue an imprisoned damsel in distress. Before escaping, the inevitable involvement of the main antagonist results in the loss of the hero’s mentor. This series of events is a one the plain displays of the fast-paced story inherent of Star Wars.
To many viewers, an action-packed film may usually be shallow in terms of plot and character development. Much of its screen time is filled with physical encounters, battles between the good and the bad, and explosions and wreckage along the way. That often means less time devoted to revealing the thoughts and feelings of the characters, and sometimes the protagonists remain same individuals from beginning to end. They learn little or nothing from their experiences as portrayed on screen, or even have no influence on anybody at all, except perhaps saving many innocent lives or putting criminals behind bars. This can be the case in the French Connection, where the plot is mainly concerned with the pursuing of the foreign drug dealers.
As for Star Wars, there is some amount of character development within the protagonists, but in the most part stretched across the two sequels. Aside from the main hero who, by the end of the movie, manages to implement what his mentor have been teaching him, the most notable character development is found in Han Solo. While being the hero’s companion, he, at one point, did not concern himself with the plight to destroy the said enemy territory. However, at the very climax of the elaborate space battle sequence at the end of the movie, Han Solo shows up and sees the battle through.
In a nutshell, having many action scenes and fast pace can mean less dialogue, a simple plot, and an easily understood storyline. Thought the French Connection and Star Wars are two different movies in their own right, they do share similar characteristics and mainly it strives to keep the audiences glued to their seats.