In the late '60s, American culture experienced a period of change as the youth movement challenged conventional attitudes about politics, sex, drugs, and gender issues, while the advancement of the Vietnam War found many citizens questioning the actions and wisdom of their government for the first time. As American attitudes continued to evolve, so did the American film industry; as costly big-budget blockbusters nearly brought the major studios to the brink of collapse, smaller and more personal films such as Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider, and Five Easy Pieces demonstrated there was a ready audience for bold and challenging entertainment. As the '60s faded into the 1970s, American cinema moved into an exciting period of creativity and stylistic innovation, which led to such landmark films as The Godfather, MASH, The Last Picture Show, Shampoo, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Chinatown, and Taxi Driver, and new freedom for directors and screenwriters. Ironically, however, it was another pair of big-budget blockbusters directed by students of the new wave of filmmaking -- Jaws and Star Wars -- which brought the studios back to power and put an end to Hollywood's flirtation with offbeat creativity. A Decade Under the Influence is a documentary which explores the rise and fall of new American filmmaking in the 1970s, and features interviews with many of the key directors, screenwriters, and actors whose work typified the movement, including Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Roger Corman, Dennis Hopper, Jon Voight, and Julie Christie. A Decade Under the Influence received its world premier at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, and an expanded version of the film was later shown on the premium cable outlet The Independent Film Channel; the documentary was the final work of co-director Ted Demme, who died shortly before the film was completed.
by Mark Deming synopsis