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

54 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2008 Last revised: 1 Sep 2010

David W. Galenson

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Joshua Kotin

Chicago Review

Date Written: June 2008

Abstract

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 Fran├žois 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.

Suggested Citation

Galenson, David W. and Kotin, Joshua, From the New Wave to the New Hollywood: The Life Cycles of Important Movie Directors from Godard and Truffaut to Spielberg and Eastwood (June 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14150. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1152691

David W. Galenson (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Joshua Kotin

Chicago Review ( email )

1010 E 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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