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According to Blackboard assignment information

According to Blackboard assignment information, “The late 1960s saw the end of the
Motion Picture Production Code and the beginning of the ratings system. The Studios System
was over. The late 1960s and 1970s saw new voices and new directors coming out of television,
acting, and film school. Many of these film changed the film industry by creating films that were
personal, violent, technically innovative, more adult in nature (nudity, swearing, and adult
themes), featuring rock and roll music, exploring the counterculture, challenging the status quo
and more. While the beginning of the 1970s has more independent minded films – the end of the
decade we see the arrival of the blockbuster era.” In this essay, I will write about new directors,
how liberating the film is due to the rating system. Additionally, I will also talk about the stars of
the film, themes, and the directors.
The Panic in Needle Park was released in 1971. It was directed by Jerry Schatzberg and
produced by Dominick Dunne. Gadd Productions Corp. Didion-Dunne was the production
company and it was distributed by 20 th Century Fox. The film starred Al Pacino as Bobby, Kitty
Winn as Helen Reeves, Alan Vint as Narcotics Detective Hotch, and Richard Bright as Hank.
According to Wikipedia, the film was inspired by James Mills’ novel The Panic in Needle Park
and this film was Al Pacino’s second film. This film is based on the life of group of heroin
addicts. The “Needle Park” in the title stands for Sherman Square on Manhattan’s Upper West
Side near 72 nd Street and Broadway where the group of heroin addicts hangout. Also according to

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Wikipedia, “Upon its release in 1971 some European film boards/classifications such as
Germany gave the film an “X” rating for its harsh and realistic view of drug use and violence and
it was banned completely in the UK until 1974. Many of these boards’ decision were made due
to aspects of these films that were not necessarily pornographic, as was the case with other
significant works such as Hodges’ Get Carter, Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, Kubrick’s Clockwork
Orange and John Boorman’s Deliverance. The early 1970s are therefore often cited to be the
significant phase of X-rated movies that were not necessarily pornographic.” The rating system
gave more freedom to the directors to make movies of their choice. The meaning of rating X
varies from countries to countries. According to Wikipedia, in the United States the rating X
stands for not suitable for children because the film contains “extreme violence, strongly implied
sex, and graphic language.” Similarly, in France, the movies with X rating can be only shown in
specific theatres and they also have special taxes and tax rates because the film incite
pornography and violence. To get to my initial point about how the rating system liberated the
films, the rating system gave more authority to the directors to make a movie based on their
audience. The rating system gave more authority because the directors can make the type of
movies their audiences prefer to see and they would be able to make some profit as well. Before
the rating system, the directors would make movies for the general public to see, but they would
not gain much profit since not everyone has the same taste. The rating system helped the
directors make movies that their audiences would appreciate.
The genre of the film The Panic in Needle Park can be described as drama because the
film depicts how the usage of heroin can impact the society in a bad way. And sometimes,
people close to drug addicts can also become an addict. For example, in The Panic in Needle
Park, Bobby is a drug dealer to Marco, Helen’s boyfriend, but and Marco owes money to Bobby

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for buying heroin. So one day, Bobby went to Marco’s house to collect all his money and there
he saw ill Helen lying on the sofa. Marco couldn’t pay him that day so he comes back another
day and saw Helen still ill and heard that Marco left her. So he enquires about what has
happened to her and they get to know each other and they become close. Since Bobby and Helen
spend most of their time in the “Needle Park” with all the heroin addicts, Helen becomes
affected seeing everyone taking heroin. As a result, she also becomes an addict. Furthermore, it
only goes to show how hanging out with addicts can influence people in a bad way.
The music of the film was like rock and roll because the director tried to showcase what
happens when people take heroin through music. The upbeat music exemplified how the heroin
addict feel when they take drugs. There were five major companies when the studio system was
invented and each company had their own responsibilities. The Panic in Needle Park is different
from the studio system because the film was not produced by one of the five major companies.
To conclude, the film The Panic in Needle Park was a great film because the film showed
what happens when people hang out with drug addicted people and how that can affect the
people near them. The rating system gave more authority and understanding to the directors to
make movies based on the liking of the audiences. The rating system limited the audience, but it
made sure that the audiences are aware of what kind of movie they were going to watch. The
Panic in Needle Park received X rating from some European countries because the film showed
“harsh and realistic view of drug use and violence.”

x

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