Just to put things in context, I wrote this post – included below – at the Emir Kusturica board at IMdB. Don’t recall any more how or why I ventured into those waters, since I cannot say I’m a fan of Kusturica’s work as such, however I remember feeling compelled to respond to criticism of Kusturica that called him “Most overrated director of all time”, amongst other things. There’s a visceral rawness in Kusta’s films that is intriguing enough to tempt me to watch his works and when I do, I invariably walk out stimulated emotionally and mentally.
Anyhow, here’s my take on story and story telling:-
Maybe we first need to draw a distinct line between blockbuster and art-house films, otherwise there is no point in deliberating the differences of opinion on the quality (or philosophy) of someone’s work!?
The aims, and ways of reaching them, are as different as the audiences that are drawn to these different types of films.
Art as aim or not, film can only ever imitate life. Therefore, it can never be a homogenous slice of life, rather it is an intricate mosaic created through metaphor, analogy, symbolism, and juxtaposition of these. How far a filmmaker as a craftsman, takes these, is purely determined by the original aims the filmmaker set out to achieve.
For a long time, what made a film stand out above the rest was the fact that it stimulated thinking, stirred emotion, teased and questioned in an unexpected way. That is until Hollywood producers decided to patent the ‘recipe for success’. The irony is that by replicating the ‘recipe’ the potential of success is inherently diluted.
Sadly, in their quest for the box-office dollar, this seems to be exactly the direction Hollywood films have been taking for couple of decades at least.
Today, for a Hollywood executive to truly listen to a pitch, the proposed idea must be likened to something else. Strange, I know, but this is not my conclusion – It is what US executives shamelessly proclaim to writers and budding producers at industry talks around the world!
So what happened to freshness, the surprise, the unexpected, uniqueness? Are these no longer the chief ingredients that deliver success?
It appears not, as major blockbusters are aimed at the 14 to 21 year-olds. And although I strongly believe you are only as old as you feel (meaning – both ways), these days, this demographic is generally exemplified by lazy thinkers with short spans of attention and lack of imagination, satisfied only with instant gratifications. Why think for yourself when it can be delivered already masticated by the silver spoon of Hollywood?!…
What makes for a ‘decent’ plot, story, direction? A well told story does not mean explanation of every detail; it is not necessarily linear; it doesn’t answer every question it posed at the beginning. All ‘Is’ are not dotted nor ‘Ts’ crossed.
Intricate worlds of stories are synonymous with reality only as metaphors – a rich tapestry of images, sounds, characters, networks that act as fodder for imagination of the audiences.
If you don’t like Kusta, then he truly is a genius. After all, what defines a genius is the fact that their thinking is way ahead of their contemporaries’. They are always misunderstood!
“Art washes away the dust from the soul.” [Picasso]