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The ethics of documentaries and films and tv series based on true stories

For many people, true stories are far more compelling than fiction and so there is an ever growing market for documentaires and tv series based on true stories. However, there are some ethical considerations that need to be taken into account.

Firstly, when filming documentaires, do producers have an obligation to represent information as wholly and accurately as possible? We can see the simple of nature documentaries wherein the lion eats the zebra, but the event can be seen as either a victory or a defeat depending on whether the documentary focuses ont the lion or the zebra. Do those who make documentaries have a responsibility to represent both perspectives?

Secondly, what kind of obligations should be held in regards to the subject of a documentary or a film based on a true story? Especially in the case of a tragedy, it is possibly for filmmakers to take advantage of a person’s grief for the sake of the story.
Finally, does the dramatisation of true stories in some way glorify the event? This is an especially pressing issue when it comes to films about serial killers, for example ted bundy when he was portrayed by Zac Efron, or Jeffrey Dahmer who was protrayed by Evan Peters. Following the release of Dahmer in particular, there have been complaints from the families of victims and a response from viewers that was shockingly unempathetic. Extremely wicked shockingly vile and evil even garnered fan girls for the serial killer Ted Bundy. Do dramatisations of tragedies create a warped discourse surrounding these tragedies?

  • This is a brilliant and relevant point. In the onslaught of "based on a true story" kind of entertainment, I think there should be requirements for creators to go through to green-light certain projects. An example is Dahmer's father never giving consent to release tapes or create any of the documentaries surrounding his son. Blonde is a great example of the fetishization of Marilyn Monroe's trauma to the point of fabricating traumatic events while using her name to push a narrative that is only tangentially related to her. They knew that if they created a fictional starlet as the vehicle for violating and violent sexual assault, people would be horrified and it would never be cleared. There is an ethical issue at the heart of this topic. It would be crucial to provide equal examples of when it's done right in honoring the topic and when its simply glorifies one side. – LadyAcademia 14 hours ago
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The Accuracy of Book-To-Movie Adaptations

Book-to-movie films (and—more regularly, now—shows) are especially common in young adult franchises such as The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, and Divergent. The first three Harry Potter films are some of the most beloved book-to-movie adaptations in history. The latter movies, while successful in other regards, were criticised (especially by book purists) for cutting out, altering, or ignoring large chunks of the source material. I have heard several fans say that they would watch a Harry Potter reboot if it was a high-budget streaming show that adapted each chapter into an episode, with the dialogue and plots and sub-plots remaining exactly the same as the books. Whether this would ever be done remains to be seen,

Movies face an issue in that they are limited in run-time. While there are long movie adaptations out there (The Lord of the Rings is a prime example), more commonly, they are cut to fit at a little over 2 hours. They prioritise entertainment and a streamlined story. Books can vary in length to a great degree—the first Harry Potter book was around 77,000 words while the fifth (the longest) was around 257,000. Yet the fifth movie (2hrs and 18 minutes long) was actually shorter than the first (2 hours and 32 minutes long). The movie arguably benefited from cutting much of the meat of the book, at least from an entertainment perspective, if not from a story and world perspective.

How important is it for the plot to be accurately represented in films, given that they are, indeed, adaptations of the source material and not direct translations? Is it enough for the characters and world to be represented with care and detail? Are fans right in complaining about inaccuracy and missing scenes in book-to-movie adaptations? What are some examples of book-to-movie adaptations done well, and done poorly?

  • The different approaches to book adaptations and the merits or detriments of shifting the medium of a story would definitely be an interesting topic. Another possible aspect of the topic would be the question of whether a movie or an episodic show is the most effective format, whether this is case specific, and what sort of plots and subplots lend themselves to short or long form cinema. – Quodlibet 5 days ago
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  • Movies and books are two extremely different mediums with unique characteristics, potential benefits, and potential barriers. Consider this example: In the book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, there are several significant internal monologues. In my opinion, one of the most substantial ones is Alice's internal monologue while questioning her own identity (inside the rabbit hole); however, I was unable to locate a single movie that featured this internal monologue. In a novel, a character could typically have an internal monologue for a whole chapter, or even more, but in a movie, it would be disastrous. In light of this, I believe the questions to be asked are: Which elements should be removed in order to make room for the new medium? What elements need to be modified to take advantage of the new medium's potential? etc. The issue is not whether there should or shouldn't be disparities between the two - because there will always be disparities between the two; rather, it is how to implement these contrasts without compromising the book's basic concepts and takeaways. – Samer Darwich 5 days ago
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  • The benefits of a series format compared with that of a film would definitely be an interesting topic. In my opinion one of the interesting examples to explore would be the adaptation of philip pulman's series 'his dark materials' and how the movie compares to the HBO series. Whils both effectively translate the novels into another format, both fail where the other succeeds. For example the HBO series is more detailed and has better pacing whereas the movie has a tone that is similar to that of the books. Another example is all quiet on the western front which has been adapted into a television sereis and two different movies, the most recent havign been released this year. I'm sure some interesting comparisons can be drawn between the different adaptations that would help furthere develop this topic. – Matilda 3 days ago
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  • The debate of making a successful book to movie adaptation is great to engage in. There first needs to be an acknowledgement that there ate two different mediums and depending how abstract or explicit, its down to directors' and writers interpretation the book. – ml22370 5 hours ago
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The Death of the Western

With the rising discontent with the MCU as seen on many social networking apps and film and television critics, a revisiting of the last truly dominant Genre of Westerns which held control of the box office landscape never before seen and only really eclipsed by the current superhero/comic adaptation market.

What in particular made the western so popular and what in specific lead to the box office death of the genre? What were the politics behind the genre, the economics, and actors both in a gamesmanship context and a performative context.

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    Why are we drawn to tragedy in film?

    Tragedy in cinema is a large genre (Forrest Gump, Marriage Story, Steel Magnolias, etc.) but why are we drawn to movies that make us cry? Is there a similarity to listening to sad music? Maybe a big, cathartic cry is just what’s needed to make it through a tough week. But does tragedy in cinema help us to express our emotions or make us feel worse?

    Discuss how tragedy relates to the ideas of romanticism, and why these themes are still prevalent in today’s blockbusters.

    • Traditionally, the intention of tragedy has always been to cause catharsis (pleasure through pain) to the audience. But it has been discussed that many other genres or artistic forms can also produce or invoke catharsis. In the end, it is all a matter of personal or cultural preference. If it is true that some people are attracted to tragic stories, it is also true that many people actively avoid any form of tearjerker, too. – T. Palomino 3 weeks ago
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    • I think this could be examined through a lens of either upward or downward comparison: does seeing depictions of suffering more significant than ours elevate ourselves and make us feel better about our own relatively insignificant problems, or does viewing suffering as adjacent to our own validate our emotions and allow us justification to be upset? – lavenderhatchet 3 weeks ago
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    Taken by Patrick (PM) 5 days ago.
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    "Gods" in the MCU: Are Any of Them Worthy?

    In Thor: Love and Thunder, Gorr the God Butcher wanted to destroy all the deities in the MCU. His motivation was he had found the god of his civilization quite disappointing, and he assumed all deities were just as selfish and uncaring. The movie hoped the audience would think Gorr was wrong because Thor, the god of Thunder, is not selfish. Unfortunately, we have not met many other "god" characters in the MCU with redeeming qualities.
    Analyze the MCU characters referred to as gods or god-like beings – not only the Asgardians but also Dormammu from Dr. Strange, Ego from Guardians of the Galaxy, Arishem from Eternals, the Egyptian gods from Moon Knight, and Zeus. How valid was Gorr’s anti-god position? Is there a deeper meaning in this repeated theme?
    Consider the fact that Odin said, "We are not gods," but other characters nonetheless refer to Asgardians as gods. Does a character need to be chosen by a mortal civilization to "count" as a god?

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      Animated films and their live action remakes

      Disney has released a few live action remakes. Some well received, and others highly criticized. Aladdin (2019) and Cinderella (2015) were well received while The Lion King (2019) and Tarzan (2016) were not. The Lion King used highly realistic CGI but this resulted in less expressive characters which was then less impactful than the animated version. What was lost in media translation?
      Discuss the pros and cons of animation versus live action and discuss why animated movies struggle to be remade well as live action films.

      • To be accurate, animated movies do not "struggle" to be remade in live action. The Lion King is, for the most part, a technological marvel of getting human voices out of realistic-looking animals. As you pointed out, this realism sacrificed expressiveness in the animals' faces, which is one reason audiences didn't like the results. Perhaps the "struggle" is in making the new things interesting enough for audiences to consider them as good or better than the old, familiar 2D animated movies. – noahspud 4 weeks ago
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      • I would argue that the remakes would be more well received if they did not have well-loved predecessors. Maybe nostalgia factor sets a higher bar for Disney to try and recreate the magic audiences felt from watching the films as children, which results in bad reception if they can't live up to that standard. – isobelarcher 3 weeks ago
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      • Most of these live action remakes are extremely high-budget and well made, which begs the question of why they aren't as well received. I believe this is because audiences are not as interested in the idea of watching basically the same movie over again. They already found something to love-something that brings them nostolgia within the animated films. While the movies do tend to be well made, there's no doubt that there's a semblance of boredom within its primary audience. – brookecandelario 3 weeks ago
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      • From my interpretation of Disney’s live action remakes, one of the key problems is that many of them are not fully utilising the live action medium to create films that are different from their animated counterparts. Of the live action remakes that I have watched, I think Cruella was one of the better movies because the costuming was a significant part of the story, and thus, justified why the film had to be made in live action rather than with animation. Many of the other live action films do not seem to utilise the elements of live action filmmaking that differ from animation, and in my view, are consequently not adding anything new to the stories. – UtopiaRocket 6 days ago
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      Analyzing the Nostalgic '90s Sports Film

      The ’90s is fairly famous for several family-oriented, nostalgic sports films. From Angels in the Outfield to the Mighty Ducks trilogy, from the Air Bud franchise to Like Mike, Miracle, and Space Jam, during the decade, these films seemed to be everywhere. At the time, they were lauded as feel-good films the whole family could enjoy, particularly dads and uncles who might be moved to tears by memories of their former glories on the field or court. In the ensuing decades, these films are still respected, but also maligned as corny or overly inspirational depending on who you ask.

      Analyze the impact of the nostalgic sports film. Why did ’90s audiences seem to need so many of them, and why did they all seem to have such an inspirational format? Did they cater to a specific audience with a specific set of beliefs or aspirations? Were they meant to? Are they seen as overly nostalgic now simply because audiences have changed, or do we get our "heart" and "inspiration" in different ways? If the latter, where do we get it? Can the family-oriented, nostalgic sports film make a comeback? If so, what should it look like?

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        The Blending of Christianity and Horror

        The most recent horror film on Hollywood’s docket is Prey for the Devil, which concerns Sister Ann. This devout nun wants to be an exorcist and would be great at it, but her training school accepts only men. Yet Sister Ann may be the only one who can help the patients in the school’s attached hospital for the possessed, including a ten-year-old girl. The blending of Christianity and horror in this film is by turns respectful to the Church and seems to encourage audiences to explore, if not root for, the demonic.

        It’s a conundrum found in many similar films, such as The Exorcist and The Nun. The question is why this blend comes up so often, and especially why the Catholic Church is presented on the front lines in this murky battle between good and evil (they aren’t always on the "good" side). Are these portrayals as balanced as they could and arguably should be? How can or should horror films stay true to their genre, while portraying Christians or perhaps people of other faiths, as those who would protect or save innocents from the demonic? What do these films say about spiritual battle lines in real life? Discuss.

        • Midnight Mass is a great miniseries to look at. The show expertly uses Christian/Catholic imagery as a backdrop for its story. Faith and religion are key components of the show. Its an exceptional show for this topic, and a great piece of art generally. – Sean Gadus 1 month ago
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        Taken by Sunni Ago (PM) 1 month ago.