easy come easy go
is always welcome.
Posted on OATITW board on IMDb
by vh8686 22 hours ago (Fri Mar 30 2012 20:38:46)
UPDATED Sat Mar 31 2012 05:02:26
Roy... I'm gonna open your world when it comes to movies... and hopefully a lot of other people here too, because I'm reading that a lot of people like movies and don't understand why.
Here's the scoop: most people take for granted the fact that what they view on screen is part of a long deliberate creative process. Its essentially a controlled experiment... and the outcome is never what everyone expects. As the script is being written, the author makes a range of choices concerning all the elements of storytelling. If you don't understand something in one viewing about the plot, watch it again, because the guy who wrote it spent way more time thinking about the what and why overlong than you did in just a few hours. Remember you're experiencing it first in a linear span of time even though the author pieced it together out of order and in varying increments.
Now, imagine writing something that doesn't exist. We like to think that there's a perfect sequence of events that should take place, but how do you know what a character should do or say, or what sort of unforeseen circumstances can be thrown into the mix. There are literary guidelines we can follow, but there are also other influences that the writer will tap into that would be totally obscure and illogical to the audience. Sometimes trying to understand a film is like trying to solve a riddle... which makes it more fun In the end we hope whats written is good, but the process isn't over by a long shot.
From the page to the screen, many things change as everyone involved reflects on what has been written on paper. As new people come to work on the project, they bring something different, and the film itself is different. Actors, set designers, cinematographers... each one has something in their work that is idiosyncratic, and the difference between a good film and a bad one, is usually choosing the right people. That's the producer's job, the director's job, and the casting director's job.
And you always have to think practically when watching a film, because not everything in a script is plausable... or even feasible. Even still there are things that can happen during production (like a monsoon on the set of Apocalypse Now, or an actor dying before finishing his takes) that could throw everything for a loop. Some films you just need to appreciate for the sheer fact that they got it done... no matter how crappy.
Now, its not enough for a script to be interesting to read, but it has to be interesting to watch. A movie like Once Upon a Time in the West, which is a sort of operatic western more than straight up gunslinger action flick (the operatic part is what seperates it from other westerns by the way),... a film like this requires a little more attention to the build up. Thats why what you really have to pay attention to is how a film is blocked, shot and cut together, and this is where the Sergio Leone really leaves his mark.
The director has to make what happens in the script (the abstract), happen in real space and real time. He is limited not to the full five senses that human's posess in reality, but to a 2.35:1 sized rectangular picture for sight, and a broader range of sounds and music (this is where I'd like to bring up Ennio Morricone's score, one of the best ever in film history. Seriously, just download some tracks to listen to without the accompanying visuals and you're in for a real treat).
Anyway, back to the visuals, the director uses angles, depth of field, lighting, movement, sizing, perspective, content, and space to communicate dramatically everything that happens (grab a book on filmmaking to learn about all of these things). Sometimes these things are used to accentuate the story, sometimes the story tells itself... and sometimes these things ARE the story. The pleasure in watching a Sergio Leone film is not so much the plot or the story, but in the creative ways that he sets up and executes a scene. This is what filmmaking is all about.
Which brings me to the last part... the way its cut together. I wont go into post-production much except to say that nowadays with CGI, directors can screw up a lot more than they used to and not have to worry, but as you watch a movie more and more... and you pay attention to the cuts (helps if you've edited video before) the more you pay attention the more flaws you see. Discrepencies with space between shots, movements that don't match up... the usual slew of goofs, and also some really bland acting and lazy camera work. If things are done right, you never see the seams... in essence you don't even realize you're watching a movie. That's why The Godfather is lauded for being the greatest. Aside from just being entertaining, it's seamless. Every shot is perfect.
Some people are turned off by things they see in movies. A red flag is rasied and they reject the movie... This is why repeat viewings help. We tend to like things we've seen in other movies that have worked well before, not even realizing it might be a cliche. Other things contradict everything we know about people, behavior, life, the universe etc. so it takes warming up to. You have to create a new pattern of logic for the pieces of a movie to fit before you accept it. You wonder why people love some films and then hate others, but its not mystery. Most people give good grades to so-so films because they judge them purely on a story or conceptual basis. A lot of great films get overlooked because audiences don't understand the full range of criteria they can judge a film by. We tend to give an up or down vote in one showing, and the overall quality of the film really falls on the director.
The better the director, the more interesting and fluid everything is. Even moreso if he accomplishes this in a way that no other movie has done before.
Think of the difference between home video and a Hollywood movie. Believe me, its not just the cameras and the money otherwise everyone would be good. Deliberating through each shot is what makes the movie expeience. It has a subtle psychological impact. You're really trying to manipulate the senses of the audience... some people hit you over the head with it, others pull it back a little.
Maybe I'm not opening your world like I said I would, and I could give you more specific details about what makes the movie good, but I wanted to address movies in general because a lot of people don't appreciate movies for the
craft. I always recommend watching special features on the DVDs... they offer a lot of insight. You should take film classes too, or try to make a movie yourself. Compose some shots and edit them together. It really changes how you watch movies... Forewarning though... it will ruin a lot of movies for you.