March 18, 2009

Acting, art, and immitation.

After coming out of a theater, we'll often say "that was an awesome movie", or "that movie was awful!" or something similar. We make a judgement on these movies based on some idea of good or bad, but how can we truly discuss the worth of a movie - what standard is there to hold a film up to?

First, we have to understand movies as an art form, and what an art is. An art is to "see something that is good/true, and to portray it." (paraphrasing my English/Art teacher). Two things are necessary in creating something that is good art - first to see something that is true. You can't draw lines about nothing, even if it is good-looking. You have to see something for it to be art. Secondly, you have to portray it through a medium, and portray it well. No matter how well I see the true in my head, if the clay I'm sculpting comes out to a lump, it isn't art.

So, with that in mind, and knowing that films are an artform, and should be judged that, here are some criteria for calling films (and plays) "good" or "bad".

1. Is it true? Is there some truth behind what is shown on screen, or is a mere excitement drawn from flashing explosions and physically impossible fight scenes hooking our attention and adrenaline? For example, the movie Valkyrie displayed very little in the way of explosions and fight scenes. There was one brief shoot out, at the end, and few explosions. It had no sex scenes, one kiss. In short, it had very little in the way of visually and physically attracting the viewer. However, the truth it contained - the statement it made about human nature, right and wrong, and the German people (view my post on it earlier - LINK) - gave it more value as a movie.

2. Visual presentation. Does it look good? Part of the art is the portrayal. It could have the most wonderful truth behind it, but if the movie itself looks awful, with horrid acting, CGI effects that look like they're from the twenties, and a soundtrack that drives you crazy, then no one could possibly say it is a work of art.

A movie (or play) needs both of these elements in order for it to be good. Therefore, a good movie will portray truth, and at the same time look good. Judging by only one element, though is deceiving yourself.


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