A revelatory essay film, Red Hollywood examines the pictures made by the victims of the Hollywood Blacklist and offers a radically different perspective on a key period in the history of American cinema.
Andersen’s middle and least-known documentary is another structuralist inquiry into movie-land history. Red Hollywood, made in 1995 in collaboration with theorist-historian Noël Burch, makes a significant (and entertaining) contribution to the saga of the blacklist by taking allegations of theHouse Un-American Activities Committee at their word.
Divided into seven key sections—“myths,” “war,” “class,” “sexes,” “hate,” “crime,” and “death”—Red Hollywood covers a lot of territory in two hours but its streamlined pacing makes it fun and easy to watch.
Thom Andersen and Noël Burch have created a film essay that's goal is to observe and comment on the Hollywood Blacklist, and in doing so reveal the darkness that still lurks within the Hollywood system and how conservative it still truly is.
Andersen and Burch assemble a film about what isn't shown because it can't be shown but construct their argument in large part out of what can be shown, a perverse and simple twist delivered with bullet point precision and matter-of-fact frankness.
Wish at the end they had scrolled the names of all who were blacklisted. Loved the structure of the film, and the time spent on the use of films to change America's ideological vision of the role of women. Even today, the idea of motherhood as woman's greatest calling is pernicious, and the amount of guilt that films insist "women who work" must suffer from is appalling.
How refreshing and informative to see the story of the blacklist told through the work of the blacklisted rather than the words of its critics. And to see in juxtaposition members of Congress reacting in fear of that work, prompting the Hollywood establishment to respond with the authoritarianism of the blacklist.
As with Los Angeles Plays Itself, I enjoyed the bits that were more historical in nature, particularly when it used snippets of movies that I had not heard of that I'd like to check out. However, like the other film, I was less interested in the bits that psychologized a bit too much for my tastes. I would have expected the interviews to be more compelling than they were - they struck me as somewhat disinterested.
Ein interessanter Ansatz, Film und Politik so ineinander fließen zu lassen: aber wenn das Werk einmal an die Öffentlichkeit gelangt ist und sein Eigenleben erlangt, hat es letzten Endes vielleichr nichts mehr mit den Intentionen seines Autor zu tun. Das ist auch die Schwäche dieses Films, das er sehr schnell langweilig wird. Red Hollywood? Mitnichten. Ein wenig Sozialromantik vielleicht, wenn auch tapfer vorgebracht.