Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cinematic Reality: What is real? PART THREE


Here are several movies that were praised for their realism:

"Star Wars" (1977)

"2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968)

"The French Connection" (1971)

"A Fistful of Dollars" (1964)

One item these movies have in common is that they were reactions to previous offerings in the same genre.

At a time when science fiction seemed to have died in cinema, George Lucas set out to make a space opera that depicted the reality of a war-torn galaxy.   His star ships are not the clean and sanitized vessels seen in Kubrick's "2001."  They bear scars and the signs of battle.  Lucas' "Star Wars" is both inspired by, and a reaction to, Kubrick's masterpiece.

"2001: A Space Odyssey" was also a reaction to a genre that had become cluttered with atomic monsters and bad latex from outer space.  Kubrick wanted to invoke the better aspects of George Pal's realism in movies like "Destination Moon" (1950) and "When Worlds Collide" (1951), while creating a convincing and realistic portrait of humanity's future in space.

Director William Friedkin pointing

William Friedkin's direction on "The French Connection" was a reaction to the artificiality of police dramas which had made their way into American living rooms by way of television.

Sergio Leone's "A Fistful of Dollars," too, was a reaction to the Westerns he loved as a child.  As Lucas had been with science fiction, Leone was enthralled with the mythic stories of the Western genre; but likewise, he was also critical of their portrayal of a West that seemed too clean and sanitized for his sensibilities -- like Lucas had been of Kubrick and George Pal.

Leone envisioned a West that was populated by sweat and grime, and human sensuality.  People as meat, and Catholic iconography that seems to watch apathetically as violence unfolds in public places.


Another commonality shared by these movies is the use of new aesthetics to appeal to a sense of reality.

Lucas created ILM to create visual and special effects unlike anything people had experienced prior to the release of "Star Wars."

Kubrick had a team of NASA scientists and optical specialists to create the effects seen in "2001."

Friedkin drew on his background in documentary filmmaking to heighten the reality depicted in "The French Connection."

Leone drew on his knowledge of realism in painting to convey a more realistic West.

No comments: