Jeremy Clarke has been writing about movies in various UK print publications since the late nineteen eighties. He’s excited by movies which provoke audiences, upset convention and make people think. He doesn’t buy the idea of mere entertainment – at the very least, if a movie doesn’t challenge the viewer in some way it may simply confirm audience prejudices and bolster the status quo. Which seems pointless. He wants to be pushed, taken into new ways of seeing.
There are probably as many ways of seeing as there are films made. Can a Hollywood blockbuster show us a new way of seeing? He thinks it can, although so many fail in the task, blocked by a system understandably more interested in generating financial revenue than in provocation. The rough edges get worn smooth for the purposes of easy mass consumption, innovative elements excised in the pursuit of homogeneity. But sometimes, fragments of something new and unsettling get through. Go to the other, independent end of things and you may have more luck. However the less mainstream the film the harder for it to reach even specialised audiences let alone mainstream ones. Yet unique visions can and do reach cinemas and other platforms to find their audiences.
So, what is cinema? The Robot Maria coming to life in Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927). The shooting dead of the heroine’s mother in Bambi (Walt Disney, 1942) A corridor of human arms pointing the way to a castle visitor in La Belle Et La Bête (Jean Cocteau, 1946). The violence of lipstick on lips in Black Narcissus (Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, 1947). The rings of a tree cross-section indicating a time before the heroine was born in Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958). The narrator’s recurring dream of a mysteriously falling man at the start of La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962). The gun barrel/dripping blood ident which opens the Bond films (Maurice Binder, 1962). The street inside Shock Corridor‘s asylum (Samuel Fuller, 1963). The hero’s explanation to a co-star that “I’m talking to the audience” in Pierrot le Fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965). The prehistoric beast prowling a burning Mexican cathedral in The Valley Of Gwangi (Ray Harryhausen, 1969). Two heads pulling each other apart in Dimensions Of Dialogue (Jan Švankmajer, 1992). The never-ending staircase of history in The Orchestra (Zbigniew Rybczyński, 1990). Gang members falling off speeding bikes onto unforgiving road surfaces in Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988). The pietà at the end of Dead Ringers (David Cronenberg, 1988). The Möbius strip that comprises Lost Highway (David Lynch, 1997). The ghost idol singer skipping along a housing block balcony in Perfect Blue (Satoshi Kon, 1997). The journey into darkness which is The Descent (Neil Marshall, 2005). The outlawed, Iranian, female football fans in Offside (Jafar Panahi, 2006). The claustrophobic family environment of Dogtooth (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2009). The seated figure coming to life at the banquet table in Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006). The traumatised North Korean interview subjects of Camp 14: Total Control Zone (Mark Wiese, 2013). The reboot of religion in The Brand New Testament (Jaco Van Dormael, 2015).
It’s all there. You just have to know where to look!
Jeremy Clarke’s writing on movies currently appears in Reform magazine and All The Anime among others. He has covered cinema and animation in various UK print publications since the late nineteen eighties. Print journalism being a pretty dirty business, many of the magazines in which his work has appeared regularly are sadly now no longer with us, notably Films And Filming, What’s On In London, Manga Max (formerly Manga Mania), Home Entertainment, Starlog (UK edition), Top (the Tower Records magazine) and Third Way magazine.
You can get in touch with Jeremy on twitter @ukjeremyclarke.