Have been doing some major rethinking regarding the kind of film I want to make, largely due to the restrictions I felt were imposing themselves as I sat down to consider narrative structures for my improvised film ideas.
What I think has occurred to me, over the last week or so, is how my current obsession with capturing realistic performances may be creating a filmic framework that could deny me access to a more poetic cinematic language that I have always admired in filmmakers such as Federico Fellini, Pasolini, Bergman. So, while I still want to retain the realist devices used by Mike Leigh, Shane Meadows, Skandar Copti, Andrea Arnold et al, I am now beginning to see that a narrow neorealist approach to filmmaking may not be the best vehicle for me to explore my themes and interests.
Which are what? What are the themes that interest me?
Well, at the risk of sounding deeply unfashionable (and opening myself up to flak from neo-atheists) one of the main themes I would like to explore is that of spirituality. Not from an external sense, though, of holy books, dogma and rituals, but spirituality as seen from a more William Blake, Carl Jung ‘depth psychology sort of standpoint’ – of the contrary states of deep inner isolation of the ego and of the bliss of connectivity.
The idea of satori or enlightenment also interests me and how these notions of connectivity, which were once valued by society, are now in our outward-looking materialistic age, without value. How it is that someone with a ‘healthy soul’ can be seen as being without value in our world, while someone who is experiencing the most disconnected inner angst – but who has all the necessary external signifiers of wealth – can be seen to be successful.
I am also interested in the idea of exploring a feeling of disconnectedness that has bothered me my whole life. The idea that I am out of step with a deep level of being and (taking the notion further) how as a species we all seem to be prone to the same metaphysical sickness that isolates each of us from everyone and everything around us.
It is these subjective worlds and the dissonance between them and the everyday world we all share, that interests me. Not in isolation, though, but along with these other notions of realism I have been discussing in my earlier blogs. My problem, though, is how to access both these different aspects of cinematic language – prose and poetry – without limiting myself to an ‘either/or’ position.
With these kind of questions in mind I have been reading a few, loosely connected articles which I will share with you as means of exploring some of these new thoughts as they occur to me.
The first quote I use is taken from a paper written by Tarkovsky called “Sculpting in time: reflections on the cinema.”(1989) in which he establishes the idea of a species of filmmaker/poets who transcends the objectivity of a filmed world by the power of their vision, stating that – “there are two basic categories of film directors. One consists of those who seek to imitate the world in which they live, the other of those who seek to create their own world. The second category contains the poets of cinema, Bresson, Dovzenko, Mizoguchi, Bergman, Buñuel and Kurosawa, the cinema’s most important names.”
A comment made by Federico Fellini in the book “I, Fellini.” (2001) also reiterates this idea as he talks about a type of film existing across the three levels of being – “on which our minds live: the past, the present, and the conditional – the realm of fantasy”
Again reiterating a similar concern, the french filmmaker E.Rohmer (1989) talks about how he wanted his sextet of films – called “Six Moral Tales”, to “portray in film what seemed most alien to the medium – to express feelings buried deep in our consciousness.”
Reflections on my own film process… and how to explore deeper “inner” themes.
I am beginning to see that a simple realistic approach to film will not be sufficient for me to explore the spiritual themes I have mentioned above and with this in mind will be dedicating my next few blogs to understanding how the filmmakers I admire – such as, Fellini or Pasolini have done exaclty that.
Tarkovsky, A., & Hunter-Blair, K. (1989). Sculpting in time: reflections on the cinema. University of Texas Press.
Fellini, F., & Chandler, C. (2001). I, Fellini. Cooper Square Press.
Rohmer, E. (1989). The taste for beauty. Cambridge University Press.