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Poetry...Story...Bladerunner...Prometheus....


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#1 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 07:22 PM

There is a lot focus on the notion of story amongst film makers. I think it's symptomatic of the style of thinking that human beings have at this point in history. Everything broken down into manageable parts. In film people are looking at the units of construction in terms of story. I'm think that this doesn't give an adequate insight into some truly great films

I need a language to help imagine what underlies story. And what's hidden while we focus on story. I think "story" is founded on "idea". Idea is bigger and more potent than story. In turn, underlying idea are those fleeting, rapidly morphing notions that reside in the deeper consciousness of an artist.

With Blade Runner the artist directly infused the film with those deeper layers. The film is so rich in poetic intention and idea that it becomes a sort of education in experience. This film is the landmark educative piece on film as art, poetry in an accessible form. Even the limited success it initially had fully validates its being made. It's influence on creative people was immediate.

I think when we watch a movie we flick some switches in our head. We like or dislike. We respond or not to different layers in a film. I think our head can be too full and one layer can disable another.

It may be that with Prometheus Ridley Scott has missed the mark, but we have to be respectful of this great artist. The idea for Prometheus is great. If it had as much time, talent and creativity oozed into it as Blade Runner I think it could have been great. I'm imagining him shooting 2D, on film, the medium where he is a master.

When I looked at the documentative footage of Hampton Fancher, the original Blade Runner script writer, there was an amazing sense of creative ntensity to him and committment to idea. It was strange but somehow logical, I imagined I felt him in the movie. Prometheus feels like a movie founded on a much lower level of personal intensity.

Cheers,
Gregg
PS. Just to be clear, I saw Blade Runner when it was first screened in New Zealand. All us young artys were stunned, in awe. Thank you Mr Scott.
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#2 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 10:04 PM

There is a lot focus on the notion of story amongst film makers. I think it's symptomatic of the style of thinking that human beings have at this point in history. Everything broken down into manageable parts. In film people are looking at the units of construction in terms of story. I'm think that this doesn't give an adequate insight into some truly great films


That may be true for the majority of the movie-going public, but you are preaching to the choir in this forum. Most of my favorite films pose more questions than answers about fundamental human concepts - Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, Paths of Glory, Ingmar Bergman's Persona, Andrei Tarkovsky's The Mirror, Fellini's 8 1/2, Peter Weir's Fearless - and I could go on.

What all of these films have is a sense of mysticism. And that one cinematic element has been the difference between a film and a movie. Sadly, there are very few films being made these days. And I believe that digital technologies will only push quality storytelling further and further on to the back-burner. But that is a different post.

I completely agreee that the key to an effective film is the core concept. The story gets built around that. Just compare Blade Runner with Prometheus. Look at how artful a film Blade Runner is. It has some of the best visuals of any sci-fi film in cinematic history, not to mention a lot of thought-provoking questions that get buried in the audience's sub-conscious. Now look at Prometheus. It is a movie...not a film. No stunning visuals, no fundamental human concept to build a story around and, consequently, no major questions that the audience walks out of the theater pondering.

It's hard to believe the same director made both films.

Edited by Bill DiPietra, 11 June 2012 - 10:07 PM.

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#3 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 11:40 PM

That may be true for the majority of the movie-going public, but you are preaching to the choir in this forum.


I know that gushing about Blade Runner is like preaching to the choir, but I don't think that gently challenging the primacy of storey in film making is. What actually spurred me to this post was a message of yours in one of the Prometheus threads where I think you said something like "story is everything". So I wondered if other people thought much about this. I'm sure most working writers, directors and DoPs can do their job really well without thinking about it. There will be a few deranged artists and intellectuals who can't help but think about it, and a few visionary film makers (R. Scott, A. Tarkovsky) who understand it intuitively and maybe didn't need to think about.

When you say "core concept" that a "story gets built around" what do you mean? Are we taking about themes and short hand for the narrative. If we think of the core concept for some of Tarkovsky's movies, maybe it sounds like poetic, transcendent experience. Is it more of a quality of experience than a concept? Not asking, just thinking.

Gregg.
PS Shamelessly gushing about Blade Runner yes, but it's an important illustration for me, and we may not all have the same experince when seeing it.
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#4 Freya Black

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:48 AM

There is a lot focus on the notion of story amongst film makers. I think it's symptomatic of the style of thinking that human beings have at this point in history. Everything broken down into manageable parts. In film people are looking at the units of construction in terms of story. I'm think that this doesn't give an adequate insight into some truly great films


Nah, it's just the Hollywood film thing. Over in the experimental film world it's the other way around and narrative is a dirty word, despite the fact that some of the greatest films by people like Maya Deren or Kenneth Anger, are very narrative.

I do get sick of hearing how it's all about the story tho. Lot of nonsense really.

I need a language to help imagine what underlies story. And what's hidden while we focus on story. I think "story" is founded on "idea". Idea is bigger and more potent than story. In turn, underlying idea are those fleeting, rapidly morphing notions that reside in the deeper consciousness of an artist.


You don't actually need the story at all, that's just one way of thinking about things.

With Blade Runner the artist directly infused the film with those deeper layers. The film is so rich in poetic intention and idea that it becomes a sort of education in experience. This film is the landmark educative piece on film as art, poetry in an accessible form. Even the limited success it initially had fully validates its being made. It's influence on creative people was immediate.


You might be over-egging the pudding by describing it as the "landmark educative piece on film as art" I think!

It's a great film tho and I don't think theres anyone especially disputing this.

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 12 June 2012 - 03:49 AM.

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#5 Freya Black

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 04:28 AM

It may be that with Prometheus Ridley Scott has missed the mark, but we have to be respectful of this great artist. The idea for Prometheus is great. If it had as much time, talent and creativity oozed into it as Blade Runner I think it could have been great. I'm imagining him shooting 2D, on film, the medium where he is a master.


er, we don't "have to" anything!

Ridley Scott gained an awful lot of respect from me because he made at least 3 great movies. Films that sit happily amongst the greatest films of all time. He also changed the way I looked at cinema as a medium. For years I then waited for him to create another masterpiece, I waited and waited but nothing was forthcoming. Then he made that Hanibal the canibal film. What can I say. I didn't want to believe it was him at first. I think other people didn't either, as at first they would only report that the film was coming from "Scott Free" but obviously the truth came out and I lost all respect I had for the man. I think respect is a dangerous thing anyway. It's all a bit too tied into the Ape/monkey status thing.

In spite of this I still have some time for Mr Scott. I like to hear him talk about things. Less about his films where he tends to be evasive etc but more about his views on the world and on life. He talks intelligently about stuff and is pragmatic which is something I very much identify with. However there is a warning for me here. His "pragmatism" reaches too far causing him to compromise the work too much. I think it's no co-incidence that his greatest work is all in his earliest part of his career where he had less of these concerns perhaps. I find it ironic, as the man is in his 70's. He worries a lot about having the financing to make his films which surprises me greatly as he is one of the most powerful men in what is left of the uk film industry. He has made a lot of money and could finance his own films. I mean is he saving up for a jewelled lined coffin or something?

I really wanted to see him make a come back. Partly I must admit because I'm trying to make my own comeback but I also wanted to see him redeem himself in some small way. It's a depressing story but hopefully it's one I can learn from somehow. It's given me a lot of food for thought.

love

Freya
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#6 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 05:59 AM

You might be over-egging the pudding by describing it as the "landmark educative piece on film as art" I think!

er, we don't "have to" anything!.....

Ridley Scott gained an awful lot of respect from me because he made at least 3 great movies. Films that sit happily amongst the greatest films of all time.



May I suggest that by your cutting that quote short you are effectively miss-quoting me. I said "...landmark educative piece on film as art, poetry in an accessible form". Accessibility is a factor in this so please pay attention (and that, is a joke).. Maybe I should have written more carefully.

Ridley Scott only made this one film that I absolutely adored. I think he could have retired after that. I had a perod of maybe 20 years where I was uninterested in films so I haven't seen all his films. I have seen Gladiator and Blackhawk Down and thought they were great works by the great man. I didn't see Hannibal and didn't really think about it. These kind of themes are really ugly to me.

Re whether you have to respect Ridley Scott or not. We can all say what we want, but if we are careless about it we will take some heat in the end. I can't separate RS from the one masterpiece he did. Thats how I identify him. It infers the identity or selfhood of the artist, not bounded by the present moment or the momentary condition of the ego or the body (age).

Anyway, back to the thing about what underlies "story" yea?

Take care,
Gregg.
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#7 Freya Black

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 06:31 AM

May I suggest that by your cutting that quote short you are effectively miss-quoting me. I said "...landmark educative piece on film as art, poetry in an accessible form". Accessibility is a factor in this so please pay attention (and that, is a joke).. Maybe I should have written more carefully.


Maybe I should have quoted all of that, as I would still say you are over egging the pudding.
What constitutes "accessible" is also something I would suggest is vastly open to interpretation as well.

Ridley Scott only made this one film that I absolutely adored. I think he could have retired after that. I


Some might say that would have been a good thing. He did however go on to make one more completely amazing film after blade runner before his time in the wilderness.

had a perod of maybe 20 years where I was uninterested in films so I haven't seen all his films. I have seen Gladiator and Blackhawk Down and thought they were great works by the great man. I didn't see Hannibal and didn't really think about it. These kind of themes are really ugly to me.


Gladiator is a good film but nothing on the same kind of scale.
I'm interested in seeing Kingdom of Heaven because I think that might be something...

Re whether you have to respect Ridley Scott or not. We can all say what we want, but if we are careless about it we will take some heat in the end. I can't separate RS from the one masterpiece he did. Thats how I identify him. It infers the identity or selfhood of the artist, not bounded by the present moment or the momentary condition of the ego or the body (age).


Not sure you are implying I am being careless or what you are saying here.
I'm certainly not being careless in my own talking on the matter, in fact it might be argued I am being too nice and supportive really.

Don't suggest you have to separate Ridley Scott from your love for Blade Runner and I would suggest it's not his only "masterpiece" (if we want to talk in those kind of terms). It's just you bought Prometheus into the discussion and that's another thing. If you check out your posting it's kind of got two sections to it.

If you were really more just focused on Blade Runner and want to discuss that, then that's another thing, and I'm sure you would get a lot of shared love for the film. Check out some past postings on the subject, it's very highly regarded.

Anyway, back to the thing about what underlies "story" yea?


You didn't reply to my posting about that bit! ;)

love

Freya
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#8 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 07:40 AM

Maybe I should have quoted all of that, as I would still say you are over egging the pudding.
What constitutes "accessible" is also something I would suggest is vastly open to interpretation as well....
Not sure you are implying I am being careless or what you are saying here....


I didn't master this multi quoting from multi quoted thing. I tried.

Blade Runner was the most useful, personal to me and widely understood illustration I could think of. Accessible meant we could all go and see it in the cinema if we really wanted to when it was released. At least that was true here.

I'm really interested in what people think happens in this magical gap between the level of the creative impulses in an artist, the formation of "idea" and the devolvement into story or poetic form, a fusion of those, or whatever it becomes. In terms of film.

No, I don't think you are being careless, but there is potential for carelessness, not necessarily from you, on some of the other threads up at the moment. That's one of the reasons why I made a new thread. But that issue is not important to the subject.

Cheers,
Gregg.
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#9 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 11:09 AM

I know that gushing about Blade Runner is like preaching to the choir, but I don't think that gently challenging the primacy of storey in film making is. What actually spurred me to this post was a message of yours in one of the Prometheus threads where I think you said something like "story is everything". So I wondered if other people thought much about this. I'm sure most working writers, directors and DoPs can do their job really well without thinking about it. There will be a few deranged artists and intellectuals who can't help but think about it, and a few visionary film makers (R. Scott, A. Tarkovsky) who understand it intuitively and maybe didn't need to think about.

When you say "core concept" that a "story gets built around" what do you mean? Are we taking about themes and short hand for the narrative. If we think of the core concept for some of Tarkovsky's movies, maybe it sounds like poetic, transcendent experience. Is it more of a quality of experience than a concept? Not asking, just thinking.

Gregg.
PS Shamelessly gushing about Blade Runner yes, but it's an important illustration for me, and we may not all have the same experince when seeing it.


Gregg,

For one thing, I think we all go through different processes when we experience a given film. The more powerful ones for me (listed in my previous post) may not be quite the same for others. That's what makes the world go 'round.

When I said "story is everything" I was referring to narrative filmmaking. In the end, a good solid story is what gets people into the theater (or at least it used to.) Then we have "visionary filmmakers" as you called them who are able to incorporate elements that may be a bit more surreal or avant-garde into a narrative (ala, Kubrick with 2001, Bergman with Persona, Malick with Tree of Life, etc.)

Then we have the avant-garde genre who Maya Deren, Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, Jan Svankmajer and Chantal Akerman proved themselves to be masters of (at least in my opinion.) Ironically, an avant-garde short of mine just finished playing the festival circuit. I grew up on a daily diet of Hollywood narratives, but sometimes the avant-garde genre proves to be a better avenue for the kinds of stream-of-consciousness ideas that some of us have flowing through our heads. I would say that that genre is a bit more friendly to the free-flowing idea. Narratives by their very nature eventually have to evolve into some kind of story.

Again, the real artists are the ones who can combine a narrative with some kind of thought process that moves beyond the two-dimensional screen. The masters are the ones who can do this visually and get the audiences of both genres into the same theater.

But of course, this is all just theory...
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#10 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 05:14 PM

At art school in the early 80s I think my sculptor tutor, the late Tom Taylor joked that when sculptors get together they discuss metaphysics, space, singularities, but when painters get together they discuss where to buy the best turps I guess the lesson for us then was that ....what artists of different kinds chose to talk about or were able to talk about was no indication of what they were able to achieve. We could apply that to film makers, but film making normally comes with a heightened conscious awareness of process, for both development and execution. Unless you are Salvador Dali and you just.....threw that camera up into the air while it was running (as he did). But hey, maybe he planned that all really carefully.

I'm with you completely that there are great film makers who can defy categorization into genre. Actually, I think genre is a really odd concept in the way it is being so universally applied to film. Given enough time, does the new simply become another category (genre). Is that what really happened to the avant-garde. Is there is no real avant-garde, just a history lesson? (not asking, just talking)

On a personal level, hopefully without shifting the axis of the thread. I have seen a little of Dereen, Cocteau and yes Svankmajor. He I thought was a very original guy and a master of ideas.

Cheers,
Gregg
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#11 Chris Millar

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 05:54 PM

To quote a good mate after having just seen prometheus:

"in space, no one can hear you shrug"
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#12 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 06:38 PM

To quote a good mate after having just seen prometheus:

"in space, no one can hear you shrug"


LOL...Now that's funny! :D
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#13 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 07:16 PM

To quote a good mate after having just seen prometheus:

"in space, no one can hear you shrug"


Yea, cruel, but really funny. I was LLOL (litterally laughing out loud)
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#14 Chris Millar

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 11:11 PM

Nice !

Yes, he is a funny guy, met him at Architecture School in Auckland.

... a quick google search and I see it's been used by others, a case of collective consciousness Posted Image
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