Seeing is believing

If all goes well I’ll be in Rotterdam tonight for the International Film Festival. My friend Rick is “moderating” a discussion about magic in film and it looked like a good plan to go together and discuss several aspects of this theme. I’d like to go into more detail, but as I am stupid I’m just not able to find this part of the programme on the IFFR-site. All I know is that three persons will debate this topic and that one of them has worked on HUGO. I will get back on the debate when it has finished tonight.

In a broader sense there is no doubt that HUGO and also THE ARTIST have rekindled the interest for cinemagic, the magic lantern, that cutesy time in cinema history when funny (French) men with beards played tricks on the eye. And let us all hope it will continue for a long time, because that’s what cinema is. Cinema is magic and watching movies is a magical experience.  In a sense it’s a disgrace that it has to come to movies like HUGO and THE ARTIST with their “There in your face, this is what cinema used to be” approach to re-establish the notion that cinema is indeed the highest form of suspension of belief and therefore fun. You see it, you believe it, but you know it’s not real. And as in magic, the most enjoyable tricks are the ones you can’t believe how they are done.

I might as well come forward and say that I hate reality in any cultural form. I can hugely enjoy a two-headed snake in an adventure movie, but a real two-headed snake in a museum is a freak of nature and not enjoyable (though I must confess that it is interesting). When I see the caption “based on a true story” or even worse “this is a true story” my enjoyment levels are cut by 3.  WHY?!  I cry out. PLEASE, A LITTLE MORE EFFORT!!!  And then the agony to watch the whole movie anyway, because the statement might be a joke or red herring…

The best cinematic experiences like seeing BLACK NARCISSUS  by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger have to do with the fact that I knew it was not real. That I knew that this story of a group of nuns in the inhospitable Himalayas was filmed in England. How cool is that!

It’s this artificial aspect of cinema that I enjoy the most, it contains the premise that you can make life look better than it really is. Ah well, I’m sure I will drone more on this topic later on. For now, I have to make myself ready. Until later!


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