After listening to Steven Spielberg talk about the changing nature of film, it occurs to me that that is exactly what 6 Degrees of Film has focused on for the past several years. The changing nature of film has produced an inordinate amount of movies that are, to paraphrase the words of Marshall McCluhan, taking us into the future while looking through a rear-view mirror. Therefore, we are marching backwards into the future.
How true this is when we see so many re-worked ideas being made into films! The statistics don’t lie. The number of sequels being filmed is at a record high this year.
The paradigm has shifted to television films which George Lucas described as being “much more adventurous” than the work coming out of major film studios.
Here is an excerpt from the book, “6 Degrees of Film”, talking about this paradigm shift:
Kick-ass cinema can be defined as a type of film where the predominant emotion is one of elation when the hero kicks ass against the villain, and the entire filmmaking experience is cathartic—but only for those who view life through a very narrow window.
This is not really a new problem for filmmakers, and there are a number of films that have been made, from the post-WWII generation through today, catering to the kick-ass audience. However, the types of films that have lingered in the highest-grossing list and the ones that have earned sequels in the past ten to twenty years represent the dumbing-down of a large portion of the moviegoing audience.
To be fair, films like Titanic and Avatar don’t really figure in this category. But films like The Fast and the Furious, Transformers, and other mindless high-speed car-chase action films are fast becoming the sure-fire hits for Hollywood studios. These films are the counterpoint to the small, independent pictures that have been made in the United States and abroad since the ’60s.
The breakdown of the old Hollywood studio system did spawn independent and foreign films that make us think. But the kick-ass brand of filmmaking makes money and that is why they are here to stay. At some point in our lives, as we age, we start to ask ourselves how much money we want to spend to be entertained by the same mindless pap that is being paraded on screen, masquerading for entertainment. Speaking for myself, this is a nasty apocalyptic thought. Even the notion of having to waste two or more hours sitting through this type of drivel has made the very thought of becoming a film critic akin to someone condemned to a torture chamber.
One of the most satisfying addendums I have seen in recent times comes in one of my least favorite movie guides, Entertainment Weekly. In the sidebar, there is a list where the highest-grossing films of all times are adjusted for inflation, and the list begins to look quite different. Gone with the Wind comes out on top, I do believe!
So the good news is that there are still great films being made, even in Hollywood. But the demand is high for pabulum and drivel being churned out of Hollywood simply to generate revenue, and that is all we might eventually get. Imagination and originality in plots and content are all that should be asked for in good filmmaking. It’s not too much to ask, and we should all demand more of it in the days and decades to come.