Movie Reviews, Commentary & More

European Artistry

Those who've seen a lot of international movies, will find a marked difference in the way a storyline is handled by the Americans* and the Europeans. In Hollywood, the emphasis is on superior production values, grandeur, and top class entertainment. On the other side of the Atlantic, the stress is on presentation, presentation and presentation. The European artistes, instead of working on a big budget, they workout their brains. However simple a story is, they find ways to present it touchingly - with a right balance of subtle humour and non-manipulative emotions.

I saw a French movie recently. It followed the famous multi-perspective-screenplay technique that Kurosawa** taught the universal filmdom (used in Virumandi). The brilliance of the screenplay is really overwhelming. The first half of the story is very serious. It deals with a rebel, who has lost his job for no fault of his and wants to get even by killing his boss. He goes into hiding in a friend's place and plans to carryout his operations. The screenplay smoothly contours his transformation from a law-abiding tolerant citizen to a terrorist who wants to kill all the bosses (and even kill himself if required) for the sake of the betterment of the society. There are no dramatic or abrupt changes in his life. All of it happens over a course of few months. I thought the story was making a strong statement about the power of fate and the range of things that could go out of our control while we happily think that we have a firm grip on our lives. In just 45 minutes, the screenplay clearly exposed the mindset of a young man rejected by the mainstream society.

The second half, you wouldn't believe, is absolutely funny. The screenplay tells you the story from the perspective of a woman, in whose apartment the young man (protagonist of the first half) hides. Most of the characters and events from the first half intersect in the second half. Only this time, every word they speak have a totally different meaning than it was uttered the first time. What offered some very tense moments in the first half, have a sublimely funny connotation in the second half. Serious thought-provoking dialogues in the first half are ludicrous in the second half. The second half deals with mid-life crisis and how a couple in their forties are trying to hold up their marriage. By the end of the movie, I was amazed at the brilliance of the writers.

I've seen quite a few European movies. And they all bear a continental fingerprint: Overlapping dialogues. Long pauses between conversations. Nudity is not commercialized. No breathtaking action sequences. Top notch writing. Meaningful cinematography (revolving shots are very rare and most of the time we have a static camera). Actors fit very well into their roles. Impeccable direction.

Although Hollywood movies are entertaining, only European products stay close to our hearts. That is why, when we consider the A list directors of the past century, there are so many from Europe. The case is not restricted to movies, but in all art forms - painting, music, designing, drawing, cooking, photography, ceramics, sculpting, fiber works, etc Europe has produced leaders. Must be their genes!!

*By Americans, I mean the major Hollywood studios. But now-a-days, Indie movies, with the backing of studios like Miramax are producing great movies with artistic values.

** Kurosawa's Rashomon (1949) was the first movie in cinema history to narrate a single incident from various perspectives. It took the top prizes at Cannes that year.

1 Responses to “European Artistry”

  1. # Blogger -jkg

    sweet. i love movie reviews. ill be peepin this site often. keep droppin em.  

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