14 October, 2009


Hmm, well tried watching a film recently that i had to give up on. Really annoying, too, because it was an excellent book, Children of Men  by P.D. James. Chenowyth talked about the film when she visited, so we rented it to watch with her. Goodness, what a waste of time.

What is wrong with directors who make films ~ and are apparently proud of it ~ which don’t entertain? Why in the world do they keep having money thrown at them by studios? And, for goodness sake, what am i missing, why do audiences continue to watch their films?

This man, Alfonso Cuarón, can obviously make good films, because he made the third of the Harry Potter series, which was perhaps the best of the bunch so far. Certainly he had a different vision of Hogwarts and the world of wizardry than the preceding director. It was, however, an acceptable vision, reasonably close to the books, and at least as well received, as i recall, as those of the “family friendly” director of the first two, Chris Columbus. What, then, went wrong with Children of Men?

Well, let's see. Part of it is my great frustration with directors who hide facts, especially plot details, forcing the audience to work hard at understanding what is going on. Another part is the fallacy that they can fall into of thinking that their primary purpose is to make great art, and using special tricks and techniques is an essential point on the path to art. A third part, though lesser and subject to a different complaint, is the changing of perfectly good books' plots and/or characters to make a film.

First, then, the hiding of plot details. There are valid reasons, i suppose, to keep certain things hidden ~ in a detective mystery, for example, you don't want to know before the point of revelation who the murderer is. In the average film, however, the audience needs to be able to follow the plot in order to understand what is happening, let alone why it is happening. In Children of Men there were too many scenes, too early in the film, when it was not clear what was happening, nor why. I felt lost and confused, which are not good feelings, not what i would expect a director to be aiming to induce in me.

Second, changing plots and characters, sometimes (though not in the case of Children of Men, i admit) so greatly that there is nothing in common with the original book except the title. If they enjoyed the book in the first place enough to want to make a film, for heaven’s sake, why not make a film of what they enjoyed?

Third, though perhaps first in terms of cause and effect, is the desire to make “art” and the (perceived) necessity to therefore be complicated and difficult to understand. In my opinion, admittedly an uninformed one, but i hold to my right to hold it, is that art develops out of the real that a creator produces, and the real comes from his (or her, remember 'his' is an inclusive word) desire to communicate something with his audience, viewer, reader. A true creator, maker, poet from the Greek ποιητης, is one whose first concern is making, and a long way second is to be an Artist. The problem then arises when you have a film director or a painter whose first desire is to make “Art”, because they lose the focus on communication, and thus lose touch with their prospective audience. And i find very little tolerance in myself for such pretensions, so looking at a crucifix in urine, for example, i see no attempt to communicate but simply pretension by the maker, and i am gone. The same is true with a film that has forgotten that i need to be brought into it, to be communicated with, to be, almost, wooed until i am hooked. Push pretentiousness at me before i'm committed, and i have no desire to stay. And won’t; i still neither know nor care how Children of Men ends.

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