Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 10, Iss. 1, January, 2006, pp. 123-141
@2006 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


The Chaos and Complexity of Classic Hollywood Cinema

Michael Patrick Gillespie,

Abstract: Classic Hollywood cinema, the standard narrative format for production of feature length films, seems at first glance one of the most linear, prescriptive methods of discourse. It centers the action on a main character and traces the resolution of a single, dominant problem. How¬ever, a close examination of the best films of this format shows that talented directors and actors use the predictability of this framework to anchor complex thematic explorations of the inherent ambiguity of the medium. Conventional, linear, cause and effect interpretive methods often fail to discern the multiple options for meaning inherent in these works because they lack the vocabulary to express these conditions. This essay explores how a critic can employ images from chaos and com¬plex¬ity theories to create metaphors that reach beyond the bounds of Car¬tesian thinking and enable far more sophisticated analyses of the films.

Keywords: chaos, dynamics, Hollywood cinema, aesthetics