In a letter to Eugene Boch written on October 2, 1888 Vincent van Gogh said, “Ah well, I have to go to work in the vineyard, near Mont Majour. It’s all purplish yellow green under the blue sk…
In a letter to Eugene Boch written on October 2, 1888 Vincent van Gogh said,
“Ah well, I have to go to work in the vineyard, near Mont Majour.
It’s all purplish yellow green under the blue sky, a beautiful, colour motif.”
Amazing colours of autumn of Alpine valley in Australia look like Van Gogh paintings….all red, yellow and orange aflame in a riot of hues and enhanced by the chiaroscuro…..what happens to the greens in autumn in spite of a bright
Sunshine?….do plants make chlorophyll for a limited time?……who painted all these glens and dales and the entire town red?.
People in thousands flock from all over to behold and enjoy the vast panoramic canvas by the unknown painter.
The great alpine road has towns like Bright and Mount Beauty and Milawa all in full autumn with their meadows, gardens and wineries painted in red, yellow and orange, people tasting the rare wines and Cheeses and milling around in the sunshine in their finest attires and exotic vehicles.
The festive season in Bright has a variety of activities in autumn for young and old. The entire area turns blue and white in the coming months of winter with snow and the ski resorts and mountains are full of people in warm clothes which paint a different picture.
It is not surprising the State of Victoria, in Australia calls itself with a sobriquet, “Victoria….the place to be”
Art for art’s sake is just as heretical in cinema as elsewhere probably more so. On the other hand, a new subject matter demands new form, and as good a way as any towards understanding what a film is trying to say to us is to know how it is saying it.
-Andre Bazin, In What is Cinema
Is cinema an art, escapist entertainment or just an industry that packs a mixture of potpourri in the name of art?…..many people have analyzed this modern day muse and have come up with theories of their own.
One of the highly acclaimed art historian and critic of the 20th century Rudolf Arnheim had to say this in his ‘Film as Art’:
“Film is a unique experiment in the visual arts which took place in the first three decades of this century. In its pure state it survives in the private efforts of a few courageous individuals; and occasional flares, reminiscent of a distinguished past, light up the mass production of the film industry, which permitted the new medium to become a comfortable technique for popular storytelling.”
Films over the years and across continents have captured the imaginations of millions of moviegoers with their unique way of storytelling…..even an uninitiated illiterate person can comprehend and enjoy the film language as it has something to do with the basic human senses and sensibilities. But the perceptions differ from person to person based on his station in society, his experiences in life, his understanding, and emotional attitudes.
David Lean, one of the most revered and much-awarded film making genius, known for his extraordinary vision, expertise in the use of tools of the trade and his inimitable style of projecting inner and outer panorama of the human landscape in each of his films like Lawrence of Arabia, Dr.Zhivago, Brief Encounter, Great Expectations, The Sound Barrier, says,
“Film is a dramatized reality and it is the director’s job to make it appear real… an audience should not be conscious of technique.”
Since the inception, or rather the invention of this unusual art form, filmmakers have been experimenting in telling their stories to attract the audience’s attention using the elements of film making which or different from literary or stage devices…..Close-up, editing or montage, cinematic spatial and temporal aspects, deep focus and many more are unique to cinema.
According to Bazin, a common language of cinema emerged in 1930 to 1940.
“First as to content: Major varieties with clearly defined rules capable of pleasing a worldwide public, as well as a cultured elite, provided it was not inherently hostile to the cinema.
Secondly as to form: well-defined styles of photography and editing perfectly adapted to their subject matter; a complete harmony of image and sound. In seeing again today such films as Jezebel by William Wyler, Stagecoach by John Ford, or Le Jour se leve by Marcel Carne, one has the feeling that in them an art has found its perfect balance, its ideal form of expression, and reciprocally one admires them for dramatic and moral themes to which the cinema, while it may not have created them, has given a grandeur, an artistic effectiveness, that they would not otherwise have had. In short, here are all the characteristics of the ripeness of classical art.
Pudovkin, the Russian Master, has said that film strives to lead the spectator beyond the sphere of ordinary human conceptions. This statement rightly points out the composition of the audience in a cinema theatre.
On the audience reactions to the cinema, Arnheim points out,
“There are also certain artifices by which the spectator may be induced to assume such an attitude. If an ordinary picture of some men in a rowing boat appears on the screen, the spectator will perhaps merely perceive that here is a boat and nothing further. But if, for example, the camera is suspended high up, so that the spectator sees the boat and the men from above, the result is a view very seldom seen in real life. The interest is thereby diverted from the subject to the form. The spectator notices how strikingly spindle-shaped is the boat and how curiously the bodies of the men swing to and fro. Things that previously remained unnoticed are the more striking because the object itself as a whole appears strange and unusual The spectator is thus brought to see something familiar as something new. At this moment he becomes capable of true observation. For it is not only that he is now stimulated to notice whether the natural objects have been rendered characteristically or colorlessly, with originality or obviously, but by stimulating the interest through the unusualness of the aspect the objects themselves become more vivid and therefore more capable of effect.”
Historically, not until film began to become an art was the interest moved from mere subject matter to aspects of form.
The film director, according to Arnheim, has the best possible control of his audience’s attention; for by placing the camera just where he wishes he brings onto the screen whatever is of greatest importance at the time, and is able to give proper significance to objects without there being any need for the flower to call out “Now look at me.” The interest of the spectator is necessarily directed to it because at the time he is shown nothing else.
“But the cinephile is … a neurotic! (That’s not a pejorative term.) The Bronte sisters were neurotic, and it’s because they were neurotic that they read all those books and became writers. The famous French advertising slogan that says, “When you love life, you go to the movies,” it’s false! It’s exactly the opposite: when you don’t love life, or when life doesn’t give you satisfaction, you go to the movies.”
― François Truffaut
What he says sounds true to me….. I may be a neurotic as far as films are concerned…..I read anything and everything on films….I watch any and every film at the first opportunity……But I do have a fair share of favorite directors whose films I rarely miss.
Tom Hanks, the most adorable actor of Forrest Gump takes us all to the movies…..
“Hey, I got an idea, let’s go to the movies. I wanna go to the movies; I want to take you all to the movies. Let’s go and experience the art of the cinema. Let’s begin with the Scream of Fear, and we are going to haunt us for the rest of our lives. And then let’s go see The Great Escape, and spend our summer jumping our bikes, just like Steve McQueen over barb wire. And then let’s catch The Seven Samurai for some reason on PBS, and we’ll feel like we speak Japanese because we can read the subtitles and hear the language at the same time. And then let’s lose sleep the night before we see 2001: A Space Odyssey because we have this idea that it’s going to change forever the way we look at films. And then let’s go see it four times in one year. And let’s see Woodstock three times in one year and let’s see Taxi Driver twice in one week. And let’s see Close Encounters of the Third Kind just so we can freeze there in mid-popcorn. And when the kids are old enough, let’s sit them together on the sofa and screen City Lights and Stage Coach and The Best Years of Our Lives and On The Waterfront and Midnight Cowboy and Five Easy Pieces and The Last Picture Show and Raging Bull and Schindler’s List… so that they can understand how the human condition can be captured by this amalgam of light and sound and literature we call the cinema.”
I went along with him and I also want you all to see the films of David Lean, Billy wilder, Miklos Jancso, the Hungarian master whose camera never stops, Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish ace, Satyajit Ray, the celluloid painter par-excellence, Hitchcock the, the tension builder, James Cameron, the new Avatar on the block and many more……
More on my next movie trip about the stars behind the stars.
“Wherefore did Nature pour her bounties forth With such a full and unwithdrawing hand, Covering the earth with odours, fruits, flocks, Thronging the seas with spawn innumerable, But all to please and sate the curious taste?”
Nature endowed with the five powerful elements and men endowed with five senses are still an enigma. We will never be able to fathom the bounties of nature fully. Sometime calm and serene, sometime furious and devastating the elements of nature make man wonder. Experimenting and experiencing nature in all its diverse attributes makes the thinking man elates and relishes its gifts, yet leaves him puzzled.
More than seventy percent of the earth’s surface with its water bodies like oceans, seas, rivers and lakes with their innumerable living and non-living things, the varied terrains of the land like mountains, hills, deserts, glaciers and snow peaks, the flora and fauna of various species are still matters of wonder.
Who or what created the juicy fruits, which created the fragrant flowers, what gave colors to them, how man is able to use his senses to perceive, feel and enjoy the fruits of nature and use them for his emotional, social and economic and life saving activities.
How did the coconut get the water inside, why is water melon soft and juicy, what gave colors and aroma to flowers? how do the grains sustain life? what makes the herbs and spices likeable to our taste buds?
Man has with his inquisitive nature and thinking brain has tried to seek some of the answers to these puzzles. But the mystery continues……
who taught the bees to build their hives and store honey? where did the birds learn to build their nests?
It may be true that these things have been written about several times. But the uninitiated and the young minds are still groping for answers. Scientific knowledge and explorations have helped in finding some solutions…..they have even tried in harnessing and utilizing the energy stored in nature….but not fully.
That brings us to some supreme power of nature, which some call as God has his own way of creating things like an artist……Poet Angela Morgan has beautifully portrayed the enigma in her lines, in her poem, God the Artist
God, when you thought of a pine tree,
How did you think of a star?
How did you dream of the Milky Way?
To guide us from afar.
How did you think of a clean brown pool?
Where flecks of shadows are?
God, when you thought of a cobweb,
How did you think of dew?
How did you know a spider’s house?
Had shingles bright and new?
How did you know the human folk?
Would love them like they do?
God, when you patterned a bird song,
Flung on a silver string,
How did you know the ecstasy?
That crystal call would bring?
How did you think of a bubbling throat?
And a darling speckled wing?
God, when you chiseled a raindrop,
How did you think of a stem?
Bearing a lovely satin leaf
To hold the tiny gem?
How did you know a million drops?
Would deck the morning’s hem?
Why did you mate the moonlit night?
With the honeysuckle vines?
How did you know Madeira Bloom?
Distilled ecstatic wines?
How did you weave the velvet disk?
Where tangled perfumes are?
God, when you thought of a pine tree,
How did you think of a star?
We can see what we call nature, can we see God?