During class on Friday we discussed what it meant for a film to be a work of art and what challenges directors face in trying to make more artful films. To name a few of these challenges: (1) audiences often simply want to be entertained so movies rarely challenge our expectations, which means movies tend to become formulaic and standardized, (2) making and distributing a movie is very expensive so it must appeal to a large audience in order to be profitable, and (3) part of insuring a film’s success is promoting it, which means the director often has to explain the film, reduce it to some themes, etc. which can take away from the experience of it — which we saw David Lynch resist in the short interview (see previous post). We also discussed if new technologies for creating, editing, and distributing independent film projects might change some of these conditions that shape the film industry and allow more creativity.
The clip above is Russian filmmaker and writer Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) discussing this same issue: how can film be an art form if it is so limited by its status as a consumer good? (Tarkovsky is considered one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century and is a staple in any film studies curriculum.)
Text from video:
“Cinema is an unhappy art as it depends on money. Not only because a film is very expensive, but it is also marketed like cigarettes, etc. A film is good if it sells well. But if cinema is art, such a proposition is absurd: it would mean that art is good only if it sells well. Knowing this very well, I don’t complain. I can’t demand special terms for my films, since these terms don’t exist.
The film for the large audience cannot be poetical. Some films have been seen by millions of people, but this happened at the dawn of silent cinema, when each new film attracted people’s curiosity. Now it’s difficult to surprise the spectator and good films are not seen by the masses.”