"I really think most of what we call cinema is not cinema. It’s really film theatre or, even worse, illustrated literature. The object of the film is the story and the characters are just technical people representing something. Most cinema is comic books. In my opinion that is not real cinema. Real cinema is much closer to music. Music doesn’t represent anything, it is just something that will convey feeling. It doesn’t mean anything. I hate the idea that film is actually telling a story! The great part of film is to make you feel, not by the narrative. For example the first shot of Silent Light (2007) is cinematic. The light itself is beautiful. In literature, that does not exist. You can just write, “The sun came up.” The beauty in my film is the sun itself. You don’t have to recreate it. In cinema, the story and the photography are the same thing. It’s not like, “I don’t like the story, but great photography.” The photography is the film itself; it’s not a vehicle for the story. I don’t want a story and then you illustrate it, in a way that there will always be a division between form and meaning. I think in art, form and meaning are the same thing. In that sense, music is the most noble of arts, because it does not permit you to separate the music from the meaning. When cinema is true, it is a language in itself - that is why it is an art. I hate the idea that a good film is a good story, as Hollywood people say. That’s not letting cinema be totally free.”
2013 THR CINEMATOGRAPHERS ROUNDTABLE
We usually hear about the cinematic process from directors, actors and writers, so it’s a rare treat to be able to watch a discussion involving the masterminds behind a film’s visual style. The Hollywood Reporter’s newest addition to their 2013 film roundtable brings together 5 cinematographers responsible for some of the year’s most buzzed about films: Barry Ackroyd (Captain Phillips), Sean Bobbitt (12 Years a Slave), Bruno Delbonnel (Inside Llewyn Davis), Phedon Papamichael (Nebraska), and Stuart Dryburgh (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty). The topics of conversation range from the inevitable film vs digital debate to what it entails to be a good Director of Photography.
This film has taught me that it is possible to love a filmmaker, but to hate their film. I’m a big fan of Cassavetes and therefore did my best to find some sort of redeeming quality in his first feature film Shadows. Here’s all I could find up.
1) I admire the controversial subject matter that Cassavetes explores with his first feature film. Interracial relationships, especially of the sexual kind, could not have been an easy topic to approach in 1959.
2) The acting in this film was really terrible. It was hard to stay focussed throughout the film. I know the shooting approach of this film was largely improvisational, but for me it seemed Cassavetes picked the wrong actors to improvise with. Scenes seemed to drag on way pass their welcome. The camera movement was also pretty terrible, which only further pulled me out of the film. However Lelia Goldoni performance in the film was the exception. She gave the film life and energy. Her performance was believable, vulnerable and layered. I could of watched another 2 hours of just her.
3) Despite my feelings towards the film, I still have a tremendous amount of respect for Cassavetes, because him and his band of beatniks ultimately succeeded. Their goal was to make a film for themselves. A film they could enjoy and be proud of. The goal was not to make money or appease a studio exec, but rather art for arts sake. In this goal they categorically succeeded.
Lastly, I think it should also be noted that Cassavetes funded much of this project himself. He worked as an actor in bigger hollywood films, then would use the money from those acting projects to fund his own independent films. Part of this film was actual funded by fans, who would mail in donations because they believed in the Cassavetes and the film.
This is amazing!! Cassavetes was using the kickstarter crowd-sourcing model 40 years prior to the invention of the internet.
"Art is never completed, only abandoned." A good friend once told me this and I remember laughing at the sentiment and thinking "that seems overly dramatic." Well, I get it now. I also feel this statement holds espesically true for the art form of film. If I had my way we would make at least 9 more adjustments to our latest film, but something tells me this restless feeling would remain, dispite the new cuts. Maybe this feeling never goes away. Maybe filmmakers are internally restless. Maybe that’s a good thing.
It’s hard not to fall in love with Mia Farrow in this film. It’s equally as difficult not to hate the character of her husband Guy, who is played by John Cassavetes.