Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The camera eye

Tonight my film students watched Blow-Up, and much to my surprise, the reaction was far more positive than the one they gave Jules and Jim last week.  Actually it was just about flip-flopped; the men in the class found it far more interesting, while some of the women that enjoyed Jules and Jim were unhappy with Antonioni's version of the sixties.

For me, both movies -- maybe like all the movies I'm showing in class -- grab me in a similar way.  I find myself sucked in by the filmmaking.  The audacious way that the camera is used just makes my jaw drop.  Truffaut dances with reckless abandon.  There's no movement that is out of bounds.  Moving pictures were made to move!  Antonioni is suspicious of all that restlessness.  Doesn't it hide an emptiness, he wonders?  Yet he knows that his camera defines reality -- and he boldly accepts that responsibility, showing us exactly what he wants, how he wants.

I didn't necessarily plan for these two weeks to define European filmmaking, or to set the stage for the seventies movies that are coming up.  But how thrilling it is to give these students movies whose visual vocabulary, whose attitude toward their stories, and whose choice of subject matter change everything for the American filmmakers who followed in their footsteps.

No comments: