What Determines Success When Challenging Convention?

Many directors who have a very distinct style; however, some are criticized for not adhering to convention (Batman V Superman’s lack of establishing shots, Le Miz’s use of handheld and disregard of the fourth wall*) while others are praised for it (Wes Anderson’s constantly symmetrical shots, which ignore the Rule of Thirds). Why are these so differently received? Which filmmakers are successful when they challenge convention, and why? Success here is defined by critical and popular opinion (‘majority rules’), rather than box office returns.

This topic should mainly address technical aspects of filmmaking such as lighting, camera-work, and cinematography, rather than plot or character.

*from Film Crit Hulk’s excellent review

  • Interesting observation, but I think what these directors are being critiqued or praised for is not so much the mere act of "breaking conventions," but rather the results of their artistic choices. To use your examples, Snyder's lack of establishing shots may be a creative choice, but it makes the plot harder to follow, which complicated the viewing experience. Alternatively, Anderson's symmetrical framing enhances the viewing experience, adding to the overall whimsy of his trademarked style. (I won't comment on Hooper, because I rather liked what he did with Les Mis, attempting to replicate theatre aesthetics in cinema. However, I feel that Joe Wright did this much better that same year in his Anna Karenina, but that was also torn apart by the critiques.) My point is, iconoclasm in and of itself has no inherent value; it depends entirely one what is being revolted against, for what reasons, and what comes of it. – ProtoCanon 5 years ago

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