THE ELEMENTS OF REALISM IN CINEMA

M K Raghavendra, an award winning film critic and researcher, presented a talk on the topic “Realism and Creativity in Cinema” at our first edition of FilmResource. While posting the edited video of the session, I thought I’d put together my top takeaways into simple words. These points I quote here are more of a “note-to-myself” that came up during a talk and an interaction with the speaker.

As an aspiring filmmaker I believe that these points should be kept in mind in the process of film making. Here I quote the points along with my comments:

Don’t put your personal complexes
into your film; hide it

It simply means, a director shouldn’t make a film his own agenda which has no relevance to the world or society. This is because, MKR points out that, it may come across as unpleasant personality trait and it doesn’t enrich a work of an art.

However, it depends on how one can perceive this statement as there’s no other way to validate these things unless one actually makes a film using these complexes which may or may not be accepted by the audience or has any correlation with an external world. Also, it would be hard to distinguish the complexes his own or fictional. For eg: Cronenberg’s Crash, or Rohmer’s Claire’s Knee.

Distorting reality in cinema

The term Impressionism in painting tries to achieves this result, by distorting the reality using tiny little brush strokes on canvas to give the realistic effect. It gives us a perspective and makes an ordinary thing look in a special way and at the same time feels like local colour. It is an artistic expression. For example, the paintings of Van Gogh (starry nights). It is also important to make these distortions visible in cinema. Else, it wouldn’t seem realistic or honest enough. (I wonder what makes a connoisseur of an art to say if any particular work of art is a honest one or not. Perhaps it’s this. When you see one, you know.)

On location

  1. Location scouting, before writing the screenplay

The idea of our film is always beautiful in our head. When we make it, it will never be the same as intended. It gets lost in the translation. One of the main reasons being, the location. Due to various reasons we would be forced to compromise on the location during the shoot.

Furthermore, once the location is found, it is even more important to use it in a right way. Essentially adopt Mise-en-scène technique i.e. to be in control of what’s going to appear on screen, every single object, by adding or removing them from the frame.

  1. Location is a key to FILM MAKING

Instead of adopting a literature into film, MKR suggests that, one should find a location and construct a story around it. For he feels that every location has its own unique story waiting to be told. In a country like ours, it makes lot of sense.

 Casting the right people for the character

Ideally, a story or a character should demand this particular actor. In terms of physical looks, as long as he/she suits the character and fits into the story. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if he’s a non-actor or a dilettante, if a smart placement of a camera can manage to hide this. This usually works for a situational driven drama. Anyways, casting should be a conscious choice. This is subjective thing and depends on the filmmaker.

Cinema should be open to speculation and interpretation

A rule on better writing says, ‘show, don’t tell’. That’s how an ideal film should be, a cinema should leave the audience with a question. Film should not always have to be understandable and there should be a room for speculation. This doesn’t mean a film should not have a closure, even though there’s some sort of closure there should be enough room for interpretation. It doesn’t mean it should be a puzzle either, a puzzle without any clues.

Watch the video of MKR’s talk here and let us know what are your FAVORITE takeaways.

 

Article by Santosh Kumar
Student of cinema, and the director of a short-film OVERTURE
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