Friday, 3 December 2010

Film Studies: Why it mentally torments you [Feature]

So, studying this subject can be quite a difficult task not only because it involves an in depth knowledge of history, culture, class, gender, technicalities, theories etc. But because the films you watch can actually play on your mind for weeks on end. We see some of the utmost disturbing, confusing, emotionally draining stories all to match with the week's topic we're learning. To give you an example of what we go through, here's a few films that stuck out to me on the course this term...

The Idiots (dir. Lars Von Trier, 1998) - Part of the Dogma 95 movement, this film uses only natural lighting, sound and filming to bring the picture to the screen. We have no special effects or quick cuts, just elongated scenes of pretty disturbing subjects. The film tells the tale of a group of people, who in order to fight back against the government that aren't providing the necessary funds to look after their people efficiently, they pretend to be disabled to gain money or just to "poke fun" at observers. One scene in particular which includes full on penetration in a group orgy makes for some disturbing watching, particularly when it's combined with people acting as though they are mentally unstable. You're watching these people act completely against the norm of society meaning the film is shocking and very, very grotesque. If you know of Trier, you wouldn't expect anything less. This was part of the Transnational Cinemas and global movements in cinema, so you can see why they chose this beauty of a tale. 

Silence of the Lambs (dir. Jonathan Demme, 1991) - I have a real appreciation for this film, not only because it's genuinely very well made film with brilliant characters and acting, but the content behind it is perfect to study. We've got a set up for a perfect thriller, analytical readings for feminism, psychoanalysis and Freudian theory, plus the technical aspects of analysing the sets are just endless. It came under the Audience Perspective topic, and seeing as you can't do anything but gaze upon this story, it was great fun to watch again on the big screen. 

A Tale of Two Sisters (dir. Ji-Woon Kim, 2003) - Anything foreign that's a horror is right up my street. The censorship seems to be a lot less restraining meaning the topics discussed are a lot more openly talked about. This Korean horror tells the story of two young girls moving to live with their step mother, only to find out that a death in a family has come back to haunt them. Hollywood remade this story and called it The Uninvited. I'm pretty sure, even though I haven't seen the film, it wouldn't have the same effect as this one did on me. The film just tormented you from beginning to end with subtle scenes of shock and not so obvious ones of silence waiting for the loud bang to happen. Horrors can become a huge cliché of themselves, but this just restored my faith in them, if not messed with my head... I can't quit decide. 

Black Nascissus (dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1947) - This was probably the most eccentric of them all. A story about nuns being sent to a little village to establish a religious community? All we really see are women on the loose with sexual urges and anger issues. It didn't seem to flow, but just went from "Yeah, okay I'm following this" to "Wooh, why the f**k is she on the edge of a cliff?!" It was just completely bizarre, and had a really odd concept. To go with the topic of Dreams and Fantasy theory, the film totally matched everything we were talking about, and applying this theory to other films really made you understand the plot of them a little bit more. But, you can also say that it's reading way too much into something. I'm sure not every director sets out to put a tree in a corner of the screen to represent a phallic symbol, but it's nice to consider it. 

Black Girl (dir. Ousmane Sembene, 1966) - I'd never really seen a South African film before, but what really made this interesting was that it takes place mostly in France. The combination of the two nations gave the reason as to why we were studying this, as it came under 'transnational cinema', and really gave an interesting watch. It's something I'd never quite seen before, purely because the stylistics were so different to Hollywood, and the topic was quite emotional. It saw the story of a young girl wanting to break away and become a nanny, soon to be seen as just a maid to a wealthy household. It has an abrupt ending with a death leaving you feeling heavy hearted. I just had a real appreciation for the art behind this story. 

You can see why Film Studies torments us so... Just look at the variation of films we see! Now imagine watching stuff like that twice a week. The dreams I have are very unique, I'll tell you that! 

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