Contributing writer for The Artifice.
Junior Contributor III
What truly constitutes violence in film?
The depiction of violence in film has evolved dramatically over the years and it is not uncommon to see a number of films that depict war violence, gang violence, or glorified murder (think "The Purge"). How come this type of violence seems to permeate more throughout American culture in the 21st century than other, more psychological violence like that depicted in the French film "Cache" – which involves an almost ritualistic suicide? We seem to be, as a culture, more willing to accept and assimilate to the grand-sized violence where hundreds if not thousands of people die than we are to a film where only one or two deaths are seen in detail. Consider also slasher films like "Saw" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" as opposed to "The Silence of the Lambs" and how this type of violence relates and speaks to our culture’s appetite for specific forms of violence.
Spoiler alert. Who is truly the guilty party in the French film, "Cache" – Georges or Majid? Does Georges’ response to the harassment warrant a consideration for murder, having pushed back against somebody so pathologically insane and fragile? Or is there a way that he could have gone about this confrontation which could have brought about actual convalescence? Perhaps requesting a shrink for Majid or even speaking directly to Majid about the rooster incident rather than continuing his own pathological vice of lying which is on display through the interactions with his wife. And what of the different father-son, mother-son relationships that we witness (as well as do not witness)? And the implications of Anne’s suspected adultery by her son Pierrot with her friend Pierre? And how does this all tie in with the Papon massacre on an allegorical level (the narrative being less equivocally related); in other words – how does the film present its stance about the massacre and whether there has been any true healing since the massacre occurred?
You’ve got me. While there are a few points of contention between our opinions, your argument is the stronger and the more definitively supported. I am interested to see what kind of an article you will write.
Awesome connections that you draw between these different adaptations of this classic fairy tale. I would have enjoyed if you had touched a bit upon the theories of Claude Levi-Strauss and Vladimir Propp as well as the Aarne-Thompson classification systems that are used to identify recurring themes across fairy tales (and the tales themselves) between different cultures (Russian to German to Native American etc). It was awesome that you touched on the Apuleis origin; that contextual origin was super helpful in illuminating this subject.
One of the most important reasons that critics remain so intrinsically important to the world of film for the viewers is glossed over by this article. That importance is that of education, specifically regarding films and how to read them/analyze them. It is easy for anybody, and truly accessible by anybody, to critique a film with a positive or negative review. But not everybody is able to illustrate why the film did not work for them; it is in this case simply a matter of taste and opinion than of analytical knowledge. Roger Ebert was educated on how to analyze films and could show why a film worked or did not work. Does this mean that a film would immediately be liked or disliked simply because Ebert displayed the deficiencies and errors or successes? No. It then ultimately boils back down to opinion. But his advantage to Bob living in his mother’s basement is that Roger Ebert could show you what to look for as he spoke his own opinion. It then becomes the reader/viewer’s responsibility to see what the critic’s informed analysis and opinions illuminated and decide for themselves. In essence, the critic is there to guide us to understand what to look for, much as the teacher is for a student – though at a bit more of a distance.
Differentiating between a critic and reviewer is far simpler that the article chooses to elaborate upon. This difference boils down to a critic analyzing the filmic techniques while expressing their opinion while the reviewer simply expresses how the film affected them without touching on the deeper analysis the critic will explore. Next topic.
Well-played author in bringing in the relationship between critic and director! It is certainly one of the most important relationships when a film is made as the cynical critic does indeed raise the bar for any filmmaker. Where most of the people that go to see a film as simply passengers (not all, but most), the cynical critic is an active participant that can serve as a sobering filter for any filmmaker.
The author here makes a very good point that it is ourselves that creates the writer’s block – not a deficiency in creative energy (though being twenty hours without sleep is certainly a factor). It then becomes the argument that we are our own worst enemies and that our limitations are self-imposed. To break through this, as a writer myself, I’ve found the best way is to simply write about the writer’s block. This will deconstruct the neurosis that there is nothing to write about or that the creative energy is lacking and simply remove the wall obstructing our ability to be creative once more.
Introducing the culpability of time and the necessity to ask “Who else?” is intrinsically important to breaking through writer’s block, as the article states. Returning to the idea I just wrote about with writing about writer’s block (damn that sentence feels weird), I will turn the idea on its head a little. Say that you wish to write an argumentative piece, but you do not know where to begin. I say begin by writing the opposing argument! So often do we know what we disagree with, without the knowledge of why we disagree! Exploring the opposing side will often illuminate our own view, or – dare I say it – change these views because we touched upon something that we had never considered before exploring the opposing side.
This article misses the fact that fairy tales are nearly identical across different culture in structure and theme, despite the differences in environment and religion. The Christian influence is an important argument, yet misses the mark when speaking of origin for the tales. These tales were manipulated by the Christian perception of the world in Europe, yes, but were informed by a pagan approach that in turn was influenced by the evolution of humans and our story-telling as it developed from nomadic hunter-gatherers to the settled agricultural communities we know. In the case of the origin of the fairytale then, we must turn to a theory from Julian Jaynes that speaks to the evolution of the internal voice. That evolution then instructs (albeit beyond our hopes of finding an answer) the origins of these fairy tales. Perhaps a crazy old lady in the woods went cannibal on her grandkids while their father was hunting and when he came back he found a wolf eating the old lady after she ate the children. This story would have spread, been distorted by word of mouth (think of the game telephone) and become two fairy tales that I hope you recognized in this hypothetical situation.
The compromise between both schools of thought (Grimm versus Disney) regarding fairy tales is intriguing, but slightly misguided. The Grimm fairy tales, from which the Disney fairy tales borrow their stories, had the aspects of the tragedy and the “happily ever after” as the article notes. But it is true that the Grimm tales had aspects of both and I argue that the Disney tales simply took those tragic, gruesome aspects out to appease an overly sensitive American culture which wished to repress a key aspect of human nature, which the Grimm tales present – but, as the article said, do not necessarily celebrate or highlight; they simply occur.
The article states that “The fairytale is not meant to give a picture of the world as it is, but the world as it will be.” This assumes that the fairytale is clairvoyant. The fairytale is meant to do neither. The fairytale exists in an imaginary world that does indeed resemble our own, but is distinctly different and magical rendering it naïve to say that it presents “the world as it is” or “the world as it will be”. No. The fairytale is an instruction of the moral compass – including those “happily ever after” tales. This article begins to go in that correct direction, but ultimately misses the mark.