Thursday, May 12, 2005

"Cinema is Over"

In an article in Britain's Guardian Jean-Luc Godard was quoted as saying: "It's over, there was a time maybe when cinema could have improved society, but that time was missed." Now far be it from me to criticize the great Jean-luc Godard, but I have to disagree with the above statement. To me it sounds like sour grapes. Godard himself mentions in the article that his movies have been unsuccessful in a commercial sense. I happen to disagree on that also but that's another argument for another time. I guess Godard is measuring his success to what Hollyweird produces, and it's success at the box office. I'll agree that the film business is just that a film business, but to say that cinema is over, and that no good can come from it is wrong. There is a lot of cinema out there that works, and gets it's message through. Of course since the results are not measured in the millions, Hollyweird and its brethren are not paying too much attention to theses small personal films, but make no mistake theses films are reaching it's target audiences. Through the internet and alternative distribution small films made by ordinary lovers of the cinema are getting out there. These films are eclectic, and cover all sorts of genre's. Some of these films are made on budgets that on a Hollywood budget would only cover the craft services of the film. Occasionally when the film crosses over it's target audience and finds a wider audience does Hollyweird notice and then step in to market that film to it's wider audience.

Hollyweird is only interested in the blockbuster, and that's fine with me. I like a good shoot-em up love story once in awhile to take my mind off the mundane of life, but I also love GOOD cinema, and there is still some good cinema being made both in Hollywierd land, and other places where you might not expect good filmmaking to come from. Now I'll be the first to admit that with this overabundance of films there is a lot of schlock. After all we cannot all be Godard's, and a lot of these video-makers try to emulate what they see in the movies or on television. After all that's how the French New Wave started. It was a bunch of cinema snobs (critics) who liked early American filmmaking, and so with the advent of more portable cameras they took their films into the streets, and started filming. Does this sound familiar. After all with the advent of digital video it is now possible for anyone with a computer and camera to do some pretty extrodinary things. But does technology make for better films? The answer is clearly NO! It's the story stupid. The story has been the key throughout filmmaking, and will always be the key.

In the article the interviewer asks the question to Godard "can these small digital cameras save the cinema?", and Godard answers only in a scowl and says nothing. To Godard these "small digital cameras" are what is ruining cinema, and they confirm his opinion that cinema is over. I have to disagree strongly on that. Cinema is an ever evolving artform, and digital video is just another platform for telling stories. It is these stories told by numerous individuals that may just find it's voice, and just maybe transform society into a better society. Whose to say that some film that someone shot in Wisconsin will not touch someone else living in Paris or Milan. The internet, and the digital revolution is what will make the difference. An idea starts with one individual, and if he or she finds other individuals of like mind whose to say that that idea won't move mountains and transform society. Godard has it wrong. Cinema isn't over, it's transforming. It's ironic that Godard should feel this way since he himself is a pioneer in filmmaking, and storytelling. He himself embraced video in it's early stages, and he should embrace this new technology. If anyone should be revitalized by the new technology I think it would be Godard. Godard is an innovator, and master craftsman of storytelling and if anyone should lead this new evolution of cinema I couldn't find a better suited person then Jean-Luc Godard, so please Mr. Godard don't give up on cinema you still have so much to show us.

~viva Godard.

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