Disagreeing with Cronenberg

In an interview David Cronenberg did in conjuction with the release of his latest film A Dangerous Method, he stated that

“Often people talk about things being theatrical, and they often think lots of dialog is automatically theater, like a stage play.You know, as a filmmaker, the thing I photograph most is a face talking. To me, that’s ultimately the essence of cinema: the human face talking. If you have a fantastic face saying fantastic things, you’ve got real movie-making.”

Wow, I have to disagree with this.

What is true is that the CLOSE-UP is inherently cinematic. Not necessarily people talking. That’s two different things. The close-up is an important cinematic technique, one of the major building blocks of cinema. It brings the viewer in close, leading him to see things that are rare in many other art forms, for instance the theater. But it’s far from the only important building block in the language of cinema. When used right, creating a contrast with other shots, it can be very effective. But to go from there to say that shooting people talking is the essence of cinema honestly couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Cronenberg goes on to say some even more remarkable things:

“I’ve often said you give the movie what it wants and the movie will tell you what it needs, and you give it that. It’s a mistake to impose on the movie some outside idea of what it’s supposed to be.”

Imposing an outside idea of what the movie is about? Really?

I’m pretty astonished by this. All art is about presenting your personal view of the world. In Cronenberg’s view the director is aparantly not such an artist. That makes no sense to me. For me the director is an artist, creating meaning through images. If not the director, then who else?

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