Blog response to lecture “Spectacle and technology”
My relationship with film is based on mainly films from the 80’s onwards. I have seen only a handful of films from the 50’s and 60’s but as I am a film student I should watch much more of the classics to really understand how everything started in the industry — before all the technical innovations of filmmaking came into the picture.
My dad worked in TV as a set builder for almost 40-years and introduced the world of “behind the scenes” to me from early age. He took me to work with him when he could and I saw the studios and sets at the TV-station, got to understand different roles in production and learned to look for what was real in films and what was as he called “tricks”. E.T. (1982) was one of the first feature length films I can remember that we discussed about and dad showed me the ripply outline of the character in the scene where Elliot is cycling/flying with E.T. to see that is was a “trick”, created with overlapping two different footages to make one. Movies like Ghost Busters (1984) were a little less scary as I could understand what might have been “not real” in the scenes that frightened me, as I could concentrate in thinking how details of the scene might have been created.
All of the knowledge he passed on to me influenced how I watch movies now. I try to think how things are made, look for mistakes and continuity problems. I love to be submersed into the world that the film paints in front of me, but am disappointed if an error or something that does not look “real” pulls me back to reality.
I think that technology has definitely allowed films to become better and create more powerful experiences for the audience in the sense of creating something that we would have only been able to imagine or see only in illustrations before. Like the world that Jurassic Park (1993) created for the audience. As we watched the film last week in class I was still enjoying it, music made me have goosebumps and most of the scenes with the dinosaurs seemed “real“. It is a film that has held its spectacle affect still to the time where we live now, when film’s trailer has more CGI footage than the whole film had in them in the 90's. In Jurassic Park Spielberg created something that made the audience go “Whoa!”, they saw something they had not experienced before — just like the characters they were watching on the silver screen.
But I also feel that we live in a world of “nothing is never enough” as the big studios need more revenue, they need to create something that will still get the audience to feel the same they felt when they saw Jaws (1975), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) or Lord of The Rings (2001). And this becomes harder and harder to achieve as people feel like they have seen it all already. With 3D we see a lot of films that were made in a certain way because the creators want to use the available technology. The film’s scenes don’t serve the story but are created purely cause it looks great with 3D glasses on. Like for example, when I saw Toy Story 3 (2010) I wondered if the “garbage furnace” scene would have been as long and made to look like a rollercoaster-type of movement without 3D technology available for the filmmakers.
It is almost like the film industry has created something that was described in Jurassic Park by Jeff Goldblum’s character Ian Malcom: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”. I feel that creating a film should be about a great story and amazing characters that create emotions in the audience. The technology is available to help the filmmakers to achieve what they want to create, but they should also think whether CGI and green screen are the best solution they should choose.
Filmmakers should stop and think how the emotion they want to deliver will be created the most effective way — sometimes this can be with the simplest way. When the audience gets emotionally invested in the characters, their journey and struggle that is what carries the film, even without special effects.
I have chosen one of the many scenes that have moved me, and is created mainly with the actor work and sound that delivers the emotions: Children of Men (2006) and “Cease Fire” -scene. (And yes, I know this film has plenty CGI in it…) A short plot synopsis of what the movie is about for those who have not seen the movie: “The world’s youngest citizen has just died at 18, and humankind is facing the likelihood of its own extinction. Set in and around a dystopian London fractious with violence and warring nationalistic sects, Children of Men follows the unexpected discovery of a lone pregnant woman and the desperate journey to deliver her to safety and restore faith for a future beyond those presently on Earth.” (Production, n.a.)
And then on the other hand, films like Brave (2012) would have not been possible to make the way it was created without the technology we have now available for the filmmakers. Brave was the first animation film that had the opportunity to create the characters as it did — Merida’s hair had 1500 individual hand placed curls that took almost three years to complete (Gross, 2012).
Merida's vibrant unruly curls presented a difficult challenge for animators working on Disney and Pixar's Brave.video.disney.com.au
So what I want to say is, I like balance. Balance in technology and great storytelling. When they go hand in hand it creates a beautiful end result to watch.
Disney. (n.a.). The Hair — Brave. Disney. Retrieved 1st May 2017, from https://www.wired.com/2012/06/pl_bravehairtech/
Gross, R. (2012). Pixar Reinvents Big Hair for Brave. Wired. Retrieved 1st May 2017, from http://video.disney.com.au/the-hair
Production. (n.a.). Children of Men. IMDb. Retrieved 1st May 2017, fromhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0206634/?ref_=nv_sr_1