Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Great Debate

The unresolved debate is, Who Makes the Movie? Is it the writer, the director, producer, editor, actors or simply a collaboration of all film departments? When it comes to most movies, either one, or all of the above can be reasonably argued. But with the good movie, there is really no argument: the good movie makes itself.

There is something that happens in the creation of some movies that is beyond the abilities and talents of the artists involved. The film takes on a life of its own and makes demands of its contributors a quality of effort that they have seldom, if ever, reached before or even after. Casablanca is such a film. D.O.A. is another. I don't want to make a list, but many a Best Picture Oscar winner would be on it. Bombay Millionaire was one, and this year, I think The Hurt Locker will be another.

When you see The Hurt Locker, you will recognize it as a film that made itself. The writer, director, actors and etc. were hard working mid-wives to the process. Being true to its own instinctive nature, it might not be a major motion picture or lasting work of art, but it is what it wanted to be and its titular filmmakers were artistic enough to not get in its way.

Avatar, on the other hand was made by a filmmaker. His brain and hand are all over the product. He knew what he wanted and he damn well got it on film. But the end result is not recognizably organic. It is manufactured. Though it is a credit to the dedication, determination and skills of the filmmaker, it is machine made, mechanistic and heartless.

The Motion Picture Academy's choice this year will come down to these two films. The self-made film and the machine made film. And the world waits breathlessly for the result.

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