Art and Perception

Quicker, faster, darker: Changes in Hollywood film over 75 years

James E Cutting

Department of Psychology, Uris Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-7601 USA

james.cutting@cornell.edu

Kaitlin L Brunick

Department of Psychology, Uris Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-7601 USA

klb256@cornell.edu

Jordan E DeLong

Department of Psychology, Uris Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-7601 USA

jed245@cornell.edu

Catalina Iricinschi

Department of Psychology, Uris Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-7601 USA

ci36@cornell.edu

Ayse Candan

Department of Psychology, Uris Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-7601 USA

ac885@cornell.edu

   

Abstract. We measured 160 English-language films released from 1935 to 2010 and found four changes. First, shot lengths have gotten shorter, a trend also reported by others. Second, contemporary films have more motion and movement than earlier films. Third, in contemporary films shorter shots also have proportionately more motion than longer shots, whereas there is no such relation in older films. And finally films have gotten darker. That is, the mean luminance value of frames across the length of a film has decreased over time. We discuss psychological effects associated with these four changes and suggest that all four linear trends have a single cause: Filmmakers have incrementally tried to exercise more control over the attention of filmgoers. We suggest these changes are signatures of the evolution of popular film; they do not reflect changes in film style.


Cite as: Cutting J E, Brunick K L, DeLong J E, Iricinschi C, Candan A, 2011, "Quicker, faster, darker: Changes in Hollywood film over 75 years" i-Perception 2(6) 569–576; doi:10.1068/i0441aap
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DOI: 10.1068/i0441aap

ISSN: 2041-6695 (electronic only)

Copyright: Copyright is retained by the author(s) of this article. This open-access article is distributed under a Creative Commons Licence, which permits noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction, provided the original author(s) and source are credited and no alterations are made.
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