Unreal Nature

March 24, 2016

Denying the Spectator Easy Entry

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:47 am

… The spectator will truly see the film, claims Costa, only “when the film doesn’t let him enter, when there’s a door that says to him: ‘Don’t come in’ …

Continuing through Slow Movies: Countering the Cinema of Action by Ira Jaffe (2014):

Alonso … embraces what Van Sant … has called the “open film”: a film of deliberately indeterminate meaning that invites multiple interpretations from diverse spectators who thus contribute to “the creation,” as Sokurov would say, of the films’ artistic world. The open film, moreover, not only resists offering the spectator unequivocal information, perhaps what Sokurov terms “the overly sharp quality of screen reality,” but also rejects what Van Sant calls Hollywood busyness, the plethora of fast-paced action and scene changes typical of commercial cinema.

Alonso acknowledges that his refusal to guide viewers may encourage them to wander — or to “leave” the film; and rather than expect them to stay riveted, he endorses their straying: “the spectator can be looking at something, he or she can think about it, and can even ‘leave’ the film and then come back into it.”


[ … ]

… While both mainstream and art films often invite spectators to identify with movie characters and to enter into, as Wall says, the consciousness and personality of these characters, slow movies generally discourage such intimacy. Costa gives his particular reasons for denying the spectator easy entry or an open door: “I believe that today, in the cinema, when we open a door, it’s always quite false, because it says to the spectator: ‘Enter this film and you’re going to be fine, you’re going to have a good time,’ and finally what you see in this genre of film is nothing other than yourself, a projection of yourself.”

[line break added] Costa seeks to block such projections and good times, even if doing so makes the spectator “uncomfortable” and turns him or her “against the film.” The spectator will truly see the film, claims Costa, only “when the film doesn’t let him enter, when there’s a door that says to him: ‘Don’t come in.’ That’s when he can enter. The spectator can see a film if something on the screen resists him.”

Alonso also invokes an earlier era as he accounts for his resistance to the spoken word, which perhaps exceeds Costa’s: “I just don’t have any confidence in words. I do have confidence in what I see,” states the director of Liverpool. “Previously in the history of cinema image was everything, or about everything. So I don’t believe that I need to have recourse to words in order to explain how my characters feel.”

My most recent previous post from Jaffe’s book is here.




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