scott hutchins says something that may help us think more
clearly about, if not resolve, the conflict over LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL
. . . comparing that film to SHAK IN LOVE scott says . . .
The story of that film [SIL] was really stale, enlivened
by good writing, acting, costume design, and music, but
the plot was still dead tired
and i think that scott is absolutely right, but that his argument
misses the point . . . the creators of SIL of course know all too
well how cliched their plot is taken by itself, but they also know that
such a plot can be invigorated by good writing, which they do
wonderfully well . . . cognoscenti can enjoy the kind of self-irony
that pervades the film's well marked awareness of how trivial the
plot itself is, while others can simply enjoy the ride provided
by the writing on the back of a tired but eternal plot . . .
the makers of LIB, on the other hand, might well have thought
that they have come up with a new plot . . . they haven't . . . i'm
not even sure if really new plots are possible . . . what matters is
the fit of the plot to the context and the writing itself . . . i
hope no one wants to make the case that LIB is wonderfully
written . . . which leaves only the matter of the fit of that plot to
the death camp setting . . . for many of us that was a bad fit, not
because [or not only because] of anything inherent in the material
itself, but because of the skill in bringing the pieces together . . .
whereas in SIL the pieces fit splendidly . . .
to put it another way, LIB thinks it's saying something new--but
it's not . . . SIL knows that it's not saying anything new, winks at
us about the impossibility of saying anything both new and true,
and goes on to tell its old story with sublime panache and wit
when [he asked disingenuously] was the last time a film that
trafficked in wit won an oscar??
Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama: http://www.tcf.ua.edu