Movie Mom

Movie Mom


An American Family (Again): Cinema Verite, the Louds, and the Invention of ‘Reality’ TV

posted by Nell Minow

In 1971, a documentary film-maker named Craig Gilbert approached Pat Loud, a California mother of five, to ask her to allow him to observe her family the way anthropologist Margaret Mead observed the Samoans — and to do it on film, to be broadcast on public television.  300 hours of footage were edited down into twelve episodes, shown in 1973, and it became a sensation.  Part of it was the fascination of the unprecedented format.  This was the show that invented reality television, the idea of taking cameras (and camera operators) into the most personal moments of family life.  And part of it was what was on the screen.  The oldest son, Lance, came out publicly on camera, considered shocking in that era.  The Louds thought that they would be presenting the American dream, but it turned into the American nightmare when after months of filming, Pat told her husband, on camera, that she wanted a divorce.  They ended up on the cover of Newsweek as examples of the family break-ups of the era of self-actualization, open marriages, and what would later be called “The Me Decade.”  Nora Ephron wrote about Pat Loud’s post-series book, “It is impossible to read this book and not suspect that Craig Gilbert knew exactly what he was doing when he picked the Louds, knew after ten minutes with them and the clinking ice in their drinks that he had found the perfect family to show exactly what he must have intended to show all along — the emptiness of American family life.”

YouTube Preview Image

Nearly three decades later, the series is notable for its influence on shows from “The Real World” to “The Hills,” “Jersey Shore,” and all the Kardashians and Housewives  — and YouTube — and for the bigger and still-unresolved issues about how “real” reality television can be, especially when filmed over such a long period of time that not just the cameras but the crew become a part of the story.  Now the Loud experience has come full circle and been turned back into an excellent feature film on HBO with Diane Lane as Pat Loud and James Gandolfini as Craig Gilbert.  Directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, who sensitively portrayed another real-life character with a sometimes-distorted media biography in “American Splendor,” have produced a thoughtful story about the Louds and what they represented.

 

YouTube Preview Image

 

Cinema VeriteCinema Verite TV Schedule


Previous Posts

Intuition -- A Short Film from Danielle Lurie
I love this short film from Danielle Lurie about a young woman who needs to learn to listen to her heart, with a wonderful performance by Montse Muñoz. [vimeo]https://vimeo.com/101953117[/vimeo]

posted 10:09:01am Jul. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Joseph Nasser of "Amber Alert: Terror on the Highway"
Reserve Police Officer Joseph Nasser produced Amber Alert: Terror on the Highway to help raise awareness of the Amber Alert system. It stars Tom Berenger as a man on the edge, making a dead rush for Mexico and kidnapping two young girls along the way. He is hotly pursued by police chief Martha Geig

posted 8:00:33am Jul. 28, 2014 | read full post »

"Guardian of the Galaxy's" Awesome Mixtape
One of the many pleasures of "Guardians of the Galaxy," opening this week, is the soundtrack featuring some 70's classics from an "Awesome Mixtape" played by Peter "Star Lord" Quill (Chris Pratt).  Here are some of the highlights. "Hooked on a Feeling" by Blue Swede [youtube]http://www.youtub

posted 8:00:21am Jul. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Comic-Con 2014: Day 2
Day 2 of Comic-Con included: an interview with "Sharknado" and "Sharknado 2" screenwriter Thunder Levin, a buggy lunch with Boxtrolls, press events with the directors and casts of four films, and appearing on the Rotten Tomatoes panel, where each attendee was given a paddle with a ripe tomato on on

posted 10:04:47pm Jul. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Thank You! This Site is 19 Years Old This Week!
It seems like yesterday, but it was 19 years ago this week that I first began writing reviews online as The Movie Mom®.  Anyone remember Prodigy?  The first appearance of my website was via the Sears-owned online service, so long ago it does not even turn up in Wayback searches.  At the time, we

posted 3:59:49pm Jul. 26, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.