The Persistence of Hollywood
by Thomas Elsaesser
Routledge (Palgrave Macmillan), $53 pb, 403 pp, 9780415968140
Is there anything left to say about Hollywood? Thomas Elsaesser’s monumental compilation of twenty-three densely argued essays written during the last four decades, The Persistence of Hollywood, provides a straightforward, at times overwhelming answer: Yes. Elsaesser’s summary work also makes a strong argument for a lifelong engagement with Hollywood that stretches from the development and ‘genius’ of what is now commonly called the classical studio era to the contemporary blockbuster and its attendant practices of truly globalised film-making. Elsaesser’s pithy title refers to both his own continuing interest in Hollywood past and present and the remarkable ‘persistence’ and longevity of this profoundly dominant film-making system. The range of Elsaesser’s enquiry and his command of the various strands of film theory that have emerged since the 1960s are often breathtaking, and clearly illustrate the author’s importance to the field, particularly as a barometer or synthesiser of dominant and fashionable ideas and critical approaches.