In today´s screening, we watched the Russian experimental film, Russian Ark (2002), a film shot in one giant take as it moves through a museum, and recreates scenes from Russian History of the last 300 years (from plays put on for Catherine the Great, to the lavish balls of Tsar Nicholas II). While it can be a dry affair, and there isn´t much of a narrative beyond seeing what will be in the next room of the museum, it is still impressive that such a massive co-ordination of effort was pulled off so well. In fact, it´s fitting timing that we watch this, as Birdman (2014) is set to debut here soon, and that too is a one take film (or at least, creates an illusion of being seamless).
So this brought us into talking about digital realism, which as mentioned last week, was birthed out of the boom of affordable tech and the digital medium in the 1990s. The higher image quality, as well as the ease of use of the equipment, creates a different effect from other stocks discussed before, and it caused something of a stir: Stephen Prince in True Lies argues that traditional film theory doesn´t quite comprehend this new strain of realism, and underestimates the powers of perception. This forms what is known as the Image-Audience Relationship, which one can also say if not far removed from Suspension of Disbelief, though in reverse, allowing the audience to buy into the illusion on screen even if it is unreal.
In the seminar, after filling our some module evaluation sheets, we also took a look at what the new technology enabled filmmakers to do, such as the famous scenes from Forrest Gump (1994) where Tom Hanks interacts with archive footage of famous historical figures like President Kennedy and John Lennon almost seamlessly. It also allows us to play with audiences and create abstract spaces, which in turn also has its roots in the past, like Alan Resnais´ Last Year in Marienbad (1955), an intricate puzzle of a film that create a strange world within a country estate that is enigmatic and often confounding, playing with space and the flow of time.
To close off, this does at least feel like some new ground after what felt like weeks of glorified revision, discussing much more recent developments in cinema, and certainly throwing up some interesting notions about the way we interact with film, and how certain choices can completely alter our experience that may, at first, seem trivial.