Cinema verite

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  • Publicado : 15 de febrero de 2011
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“Cinéma vérité is first of all a lie, and secondly a childish assumption about the nature of the film. Cinéma vérité is a joke. Only people without feelings or convictions could even think of making cinéma vérité. I happen to have strong feelings and some dreams and my prejudice is under and in everything I do.”
(Rosenthal 1978:7)

Taking this quote as a statement of the nature about feelingsinvolved in filmmaking and applying it to the Maysles brothers documentary we find an interesting point of discussion. When Rosenthal implies that Cinéma vérité is a method without prejudices and accuses it from being a lie, Direct Cinema makers such as the Maysles brothers stand in uncertain terrain. The main issue about Direct Cinema is what its makers and followers say it is and what the restof the world perceives in their works. In any human creation or involvement there are subjects and in one way of another a personal alteration is imprinted into that product, especially in the world of arts. When someone tells you a story or you read a story you implicitly expect a specific point of view. A different claim would be almost ridiculous. Even newspapers and TV news shows have a fixedstand in some affairs and the treatment of their stories are (and can’t be) 100% objective, the event is always shown trough some filters. When a specific event is not only shown but the ones showing it were involved in it in some way as well in it, it’s quite difficult to believe you are going to watch it from a totally objective point of view.
“We are not directing, just catching thing willthey happen”, this claim by filmmaker David Maysles is quite controversial in various aspects. First, a film director is defined as a person who directs the actors and crew in the making of a film; they control a film's artistic and dramatic aspects, while guiding the technical crew and actors. It’s true that the Maysles brothers didn’t have actors to direct but their involvement with the camerasand the rest of the equipment and their decision in how and when to shoot throughout the event and what to include or not in the final version is also part of directing a film.

In an interview with Albert Maysles, Robert Phillip Kolker questions him about their involvement in the film and the reaction in the people in the film the filmmakers must have caused with all their equipment. Albertanswers. “…it is what you would have seen if you had been there and seen it through your eyes” I strongly disagree with this statement. When watching Gimme Shelter we are watching not an event, but a film about an event. A film, like a book or a painting is charged with subjectivity in one way of another and the Maysles brother’s crew being in there affects not only its narration but maybe even thedevelopment of the event in it. I’m not claiming that they were responsible of the events occurred during the Altamont free concert but since we were not there we can’t know with certainty if the presence of the crew and equipment caused the slightest of reaction is the people filmed that may have lead events to developed in a certain way. Objectivity it’s not achieved only by not intervening, andfilmmaking is by itself a thing that “happens” and affects the surrounding where it’s happening in one way or another. The “fly on the wall” statement it’s not possibly in a film piece of this nature, and in my opinion it’s not either desirable or necessary to a successful documentary. When filming real people in real events, you should expect reaction, either you can perceive it or not. Theproduct of that shooting is the subjective observation of an entire art with its creator point of view implicitly printed on it. Even if some shots of Gimme Shelter appear to be entirely alienated from the location itself (such as the shot where the killing takes place) we can’t separate it from the rest of the film, the documentary as a whole is a vehicle of communication where each part from it...
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