A (Very) Brief Realist Approach

  
A brief conversation on the comment board of someone else’s blog has triggered an answer to a question that I had been asking myself for the past week. The answer to, can realist cinema be effective to me? 

Realist cinema, a much debated style in the area of film, has an ever-growing following worldwide but is mainly produced in Europe. I understand the ideas behind it but still I asked myself, what is the point? 

In my opinion, films are created as a source of entertainment. We watch them to relax and unwind and not for any other reason. At least I believed this until I started to analyse the films that I have watched. I soon developed a new opinion on the subject due to a realisation that the majority of films I watch are ones that make you think. With that being said, I still was not fully invested in realist cinema. Clearly I am not opposed to watching a film that requires me to put my brain in to a different gear so what was the problem?

Taking some time to think was a great idea because it allowed me to step back and view the whole picture. I enjoy films that make me work but could it be, that deep down, I still believe film should use tools of manipulation to draw its viewers in? It was exactly that. 

The realist film in particular, The Kid With a Bike, didn’t use fancy camera angles, did not use a soundtrack and did not try to make me understand why people were doing what they were doing. Why was this hairdresser so intent on fostering a young boy who you would sooner slap than support? In any other film this lack of structure would send viewers in to disarray. They would proclaim that the script was weak or that there was no point to the story but somehow the Dardenne brothers made it work. 

Despite recognition at Cannes Film Festival, I still did not fully understand the point of realist cinema but maybe this was because I had the Hollywood way thrust upon me from an early age. No. I just don’t like it. What’s a film without a solid story? I want to be manipulated. It is an art in itself to craft an emotion from the audience using trickery; if I wanted real life I wouldn’t be watching a film.

So I have established my minor dislikes for realist cinema but.. What if.. 

What if the conversation today made me realise how valuable the realist approach could be to something like horror. Holy s*it. It could be the thing that brings horror to a whole new level. No cheesy 80’s soundtrack and no fancy tracking shots. Just a scary event and me being dropped in to the film as a voyeur. 

If realism can make me feel emotion in a film when I don’t even fully understand why the maker is trying to put things across in this manner, then think of the emotion it could stir in a terrifying situation. That, I do understand.

As all horror fans know, the biggest scares of all come from the fear of the Unknown; maybe less information in regards to a plot would reward us greatly because the narrative is where most films in the horror genre fail. The found footage film has helped to push horror in this direction but surely we can push the boundaries further and unlock the key to finding what scares us the most.

A new project I feel. 

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