“Visconti without neorealism is like Lang without expressionism and Eisenstein without formalism”

Visconti without neorealism is like Lang without expressionism and Eisenstein without formalism”.

Three movie directors, with labels, right?

  1. Neorealism is often sticked to “Italian” : “a film movement characterized by stories set amongst the poor and the working class, filmed on location, frequently using non-professional actors.”
  2. Expressionism? : “a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas.”
  3. Formalism? “if actions and dialogue are important for filmic meaning, the filmic mode (camera angles, editing, cinematography) itself is just as responsible for meaning.”

 

Movies todays have swallowed and more or less digested all of these.

Labels, right? Stickers. They are always interesting. You can pick one and study the sources, the influences, the evolutions (in the director’s career/in history), the exaggerations, the failures too…

A pleasant exercise is to find the other directors one put in the box (who are formalists, after Eisenstein? Hitchcock and De Palma? And today?).

Another one is to find the other words linked to it. Formalism gives : audience manipulation, for example.

You can also determine where is formalism applied. Montage? Filming? Story’s structure?

 

How is this useful? For the pleasure of analysis and sorting? Or to apply it elsewhere? Poetry? Photography?

What about my article’s title? What is Visconti without Neo-Realism? An evolution? A loss? A change?

 

In the end, what about us? What about you? If you create something, what’s the label? Why is it irritating? Or not?

Thanks for reading!

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Movies, Previews, Surprises

When you’re a movie lover, you know that good movie directors hate the “tests” producers organize with films.

They show the movie privately, in a theater, then the audience has to answer questionnaires.

According to the results, then they cut and alter the movie. That’s horrible, right?

It’s pretty rare that the director has the “Final Cut”…

But this week I’ve been a little surprised by this :

Sydney Pollack, in the bonuses of “The Way We Were”, explains that the movie had a problem after he made a preview. The balance is always hard to find, but here he says that it was a failure. Thus he simply cut a few scenes, like with an axe, and showed it to another room the day after. Big success.

I supposed that if he did this, it’s because he “felt” there was a problem – which came here from the balance between the love story and the political story.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070903/

Then I read, in Walter Murch‘s book “In the blink of an eye” (he’s a great film editor – Apocalypse Now), that he was not against film preveiws. I was VERY surprised, but he explains that one should not ask the audience anything after the preview, but day(s) after, in interviews (IRL or phone).

Here’s my tool :

When you have a bold, decided opinion about something “one SHOULD NOT do, ever”, it can be interesting (or at least a game for the mind) to hear people you respect having another opinion. If you listen, you’ll discover subtleties, knacks, and delicious exceptions. After all, there’s one risk : you could expand your knowledge, or at least add a facet to it…

Hmmm, what’s the next step?

Thanks for reading!

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Unusual Stratums & Facets

Yesterday a friend told he liked to watch Boulevard du Palais, a French crime TV series.

Unlike his smart wife, he told me, he never really understands what it’s all about with the complex story, many characters, dead bodies and interlocked investigations – which seemed to be boring to him. He said he loved it because of the detective – the actor, and the way this man was performing.

This idea itself is a perfect seed to think about what is entertainment, an audience, an actor, etc…

As usual, it’s a bunch of questions :

Artists

  • Are you aware of all the facets which could be loved in your work?
  • What if you decided to focus on an unusual one?
  • What if the “main thing” (in a crime novel : the story) was a fancy dress to reach the audience with another stick?
  • You’re, for example, staging a theater play, or rehearsing a symphony. Could you write the most complete list of elements you work on? Then imagine one person in the auditorium focussing on an unusual one? If you do that, what do you learn? What do you lose? So what?

Audience

  • If you dislike a piece of Art (music, movie, poetry, etc), did you look for the right door to enter it? Is it worth it? Any clue?
  • Do you have to find your own casual way to explore something? The bass only in music, the light only in a movie, the style in a crime novel?
  • If you can have pleasure with an element only, why wouldn’t you imagine to “read” impossible things for you, just to find YOUR way, your facet – letting got the “real thing” to gather your own shells?

Extensions

  • In your field, how could you use this idea?
  • What if, to find ideas to blog about, you read completely out of your expertise?
  • What is the eye of an expert? Can he really understand all the stratums, the levels of a work?
  • What is a masterpiece? There are many criterions, but what happens when many levels of reading are amazing?
  • If you work on a mainstream piece of work, where do you hide subtleties?
  • If you’re a photographer, you probably read a cook book or watch a movie differently, you have “your” facet-seeker ready. So… what do you miss? Is your expertise blinding you? 

 

What do we watch in classics ? In A Tramway Named Desire, are we amazed by Kazan’s work as a director? Brando’s performance? The way they used the set? The words of Tennessee Williams? The way the scriptwriter changed it? The complexity of characters’ evolutions?

All of them, more or less. Right?

Thanks for reading!

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