The thought behind this article started last Saturday when one of my filmmaker friends asked me a question, in between the conversation on cinema and contemporary filmmakers.
He asked –
Why there are no great storytellers anymore?
Because there are no great lovers anymore.
He looked at me and started thinking about it.
So I came home and note down the points which I think are obstacles in the path between films and filmmakers of the current generation.
Here are a few points I think which are the reasons why we don’t have that kind of remarkable storytellers today –
1 – Today – filmmakers have no opinion.
Today’s filmmakers want to play safe. They need money. so they work diplomatically. They don’t want to hurt anyone. They want to be in good books of everyone. They need funds.
They appreciate government and officials, they didn’t resist to their policies, they don’t fight back. Moreover, today’s filmmakers don’t know the reason why they are creating certain stories.
Whereas a storyteller needs to question the contemporary times, environment and society. French filmmaker Jean-Luc-Godard influenced the whole narrative cinema by starting a different wave called french new cinema. He was a true rebel. He thrashed all the technology of so-called studio cinema and invent handheld camera technology. what Godard is to Cinema is what Joyce was to literature and the cubists were to painting. He saw a rule and broke it. Every day, in every movie.
Here is a great link to case study in Godard Cinema –
2 – Today – filmmakers are frightened.
They don’t dare to touch controversial subjects, they get frightened by the particular community, fear of getting banned and caught by police as well as insecurity at the box office. These are the great threats for today’s filmmakers.
They didn’t go all the way to prove their perspective and neither they care about their perspective. And a filmmaker without perspective is a filmmaker wasted. Robert Bresson’s films are a great example of how to use film as a form to narrate your expression to the viewer, without letting them emotionally attached to it. His films are the great example of reflective art.
Here is the link to an essay written by Susan Sontag on the “Spiritual Style in the Films of Robert Bresson” –
3 – Today – All they care is – technology
Today’s filmmakers spend all their time knowing and updating their anxiety about technology. They have all the information regarding new cameras, tech shows, audio recorders They want to have all the latest equipment but on the other end, they can’t justify their own films, their own film’s shots, and camera movements. They have one reason for that – It looks good.
Beautification and high color grading are killing the essence of cinema.
Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman spend all his life on an Island making films, theater plays and reading. He doesn’t have access to drones and goes pros. Believe me, cinema is much simple.
Here is a link to youtube, a beautiful essay exploring the themes of dreams in Bergman’s minimalist movies –
Today – filmmakers are ‘seller’.
today’s filmmakers spend all their energy in writing grants, impressing producers, giving pitches and attending unwanted film workshops. They present their idea as a product and also open space to manipulate it as producer demands. All they want is to sell their stories.
They want to make “Beautiful shots”
Color correction and Auto-mode on camera are blessings for filmmakers. Now they capture clean neat beautiful shots with high color grading techniques. Naturally, more than the story you see the production value and camera movements.
people still get awestruck by the eight-minute long take in ‘weekend’ movie directed by Godard. Where as Fellini’s La Strada is an epic example of creating the story in an ill-designed world?
Today – filmmakers make noise not sound.
To make their film rich and costly, they try everything. They want to impress everyone. The filmmaker never makes a film to impress anyone, he challenges society. The film should challenge rich and show solidarity with oppressed people.
Quoting Tarkovsky – “Never try to convey your idea to the audience – it is a thankless and senseless task. Show them life, and they’ll find within themselves the means to assess and appreciate it.”
The filmmaker never makes a film to impress anyone, he challenges society. The film should challenge rich and show solidarity with oppressed people.
So, I will close this article with some fantastic lines by Andrei Tarkovsky. This quote is an excellent answer to what is cinema, why it is not just a medium of entertainment and why do we go to Cinema.
ALL ART, OF COURSE, IS INTELLECTUAL, BUT FOR ME, ALL THE ARTS, AND CINEMA EVEN MORE SO, MUST ABOVE ALL BE EMOTIONAL AND ACT UPON THE HEART.
WHY DO PEOPLE GO TO THE CINEMA? WHAT TAKES THEM INTO A DARKENED ROOM WHERE, FOR TWO HOURS, THEY WATCH THE PLAY OF SHADOWS ON A SHEET? THE SEARCH FOR ENTERTAINMENT? THE NEED FOR A KIND OF DRUG? ALL OVER THE WORLD THERE ARE, INDEED, ENTERTAINMENT FIRMS AND ORGANIZATIONS WHICH EXPLOIT CINEMA AND TELEVISION AND SPECTACLES OF MANY OTHER KINDS. OUR STARTING POINT, HOWEVER, SHOULD NOT BE THERE, BUT IN THE ESSENTIAL PRINCIPLES OF CINEMA, WHICH HAVE TO DO WITH THE HUMAN NEED TO MASTER AND KNOW THE WORLD. I THINK THAT WHAT A PERSON NORMALLY GOES TO THE CINEMA FOR IS TIME: FOR TIME LOST OR SPENT OR NOT YET HAD. HE GOES THERE FOR LIVING EXPERIENCE; FOR CINEMA, LIKE NO OTHER ART, WIDENS, ENHANCES AND CONCENTRATES A PERSON’S EXPERIENCE—AND NOT ONLY ENHANCES IT BUT MAKES IT LONGER, SIGNIFICANTLY LONGER. THAT IS THE POWER OF CINEMA: ‘STARS’, STORY-LINES AND ENTERTAINMENT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.
- Gursimran Datla