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October 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
James Tichenor <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 24 Oct 1994 17:02:00 -0400
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Hello, again
And to think I only wanted to see what people thought of the narrative
stucture... :-)
I've been thinking a lot (as have many) about screen violence, something
I think America (and Canada and the rest) have yet to come to terms
with (obviously). I'm tired of seeing people blown, sliced, diced,
murdered, tortured, raped, mutilated, eaten, and whatever else our
wonderfully animalistic minds seem to create. But I'm not offended.
Just plain bored.
Violence an easy out, one which less skillful filmmakers seem to take
"when all else fails". As an aspiring writer (who isn't :-) I like
how Quenten handles his violence. He is a movie maker, to quote
Ollie Stone, a maker of movies as apposed to a film maker, maker of films.
QT has no apologies for this, and he shouldn't. As a movie maker, QT
plays God, creating a world that exists nowhere but on film, for a flickering
2 hours. It begins and ends, on the screen. He is a thoughtful but
nasty God, loving his characters for who they are, placing them in situations
to test their strength and humor, and then dispatching them, not to heaven,
but to nowhere, to non-existence.
In the end, that is all they are. Characters. Sketches of human
monsters or saints. They live no than the characters of a painting or
a comic book. If never mentioned or seen, these characters have
no family to mourn their passing, and only each other, in the moment, to
celebrate their existence. The pain we may or may not feel is related
to how well QT or any other aspiring story teller can convey the nesessary
amount of information in the least amount of time to make us sympathize
or hate (or both, one after the other) with these creations.
I think this is an important point to consider when talking about screen
violence. In my opinion, anything goes, as long as it's done responsibly,
within the context of story and experience. To create a character to
kill (as in Story 3 of PF) without any background or development is a
gutsy move in a good movie and par for the course in a bad one. When a
head (a film head, never existed, never will) explodes on screen,
it is the moviemakers job to decide what we will feel and tailor the
character to create that feeling - revolsion, horror, humor, whatever.
But we still worry about the copycat and seemingly endless amount of
violence that surrounds us, in real life, in Ollie Stone's "film" world.
We worry about the big bastards wrestling on the street after seeing
Pulp Fiction, swearing to take the shotgun to each others balls. But
you know what? If they do it, they'll do it, whether they see the movie
or not. Movies don't define my imagination. If I had the capacity for murder,
a movie may in some small way clarify it, but it certainly doesn't teach
or instruct. Film, maybe. Movie, never.
There are a million more powerful motivations for murder. QT is a smart
guy who loves the pictures. He can write some mean dialogue and knows
how to flip a scene and film on it's ear. Like Hitchcock, who said that
he doesn't manipulate actors, but that he manipulates audiences, QT
knows how to make an audience swirm. He is a story teller, like a million
others, gathering us around the fire (or flickering lamp, or flickering
screen) to tell a story, to possess our bodies and minds for a moment
in our lives. Possession ends as the lights come up. Demension begins
long before the lights ever went down. It's a story, a movie, a visual
adventure, no more.
The characters are not real. They don't mean anything in the real world.
Violence is boring, when used to shock, because it no longer shocks. Except
when QT (or Marty S) plays with it. Then we're shocked and shaking.
But will we kill? That's decided long before we approach the ticket counter.
Rid the movie world of all and any violence, and still the killing
would continue.
Not that I know anything, but it's fun to pretend to :-)