The Power of Film: The Past, The Lockdown, The Future

Thanks to the films of Frederico Fellini, Eric Rohmer and Pedro Almodóvar I circumvented the lockdown and travelled throughout Italy, Spain and France. Because of the English language British film makers often get poached by Hollywood. Rather than focusing on the quotidian and idiosyncratic features of Britain as a space, a language and culture, the great British directors, Hitchcock, Nolan, Mendez, McQueen and Scott, become American directors. Rohmer, Fellini and Almodóvar through virtue of language are limited in language and geography. Therefore, the creative lens gives greater focus towards localised narrative spaces, themes, characters, and props that make that country specifically interesting for filming stories. Consequently, I have found greater resemblance to Cornwall and Wales through Eric Rohmer films about the French coast and countryside than I have ever seen represented by British directors. Through Almodóvar I have found the colours, women and style that surrounded me as a child of the South Bank and more perversely,  at a moment where we live under the surveillance economy and stalking has increased 173% in 12 months in the UK, Almodóvar’s interest with stalkers through The Skin I Live In, Broken Embraces, Talk To Her and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! articulates and visualises the perverted obsession of a new age. Through Fellini I have found the origins, attitude and character of Mod London. Confined towards their given language these directors are driven to go deeper into a native culture and return from these endeavours with a familiar sense of realism.

The Eric Rohmer movie guide to Paris | BFI

Film, described by Lenin as the art form of the proletariat, is distributed to millions through streaming and cinema and offers arguably the most accessible mode of story-telling, seducing the audience with sound, vision and dialogue. It is said that Thomas Paine learnt the Bible by heart because he knew this text would be known by the masses and therefore used to communicate ideas of great significance. Today, it is the theatre provided by Film, Music, Television and Social Media that offer comparable cultural significance providing the images that build the collective imagination. Salman Rushdie explains the power of these images writing that ‘we live in ideas. Through images we seek to comprehend our world. And through images we sometimes seek to subjugate and dominate others. But picture making, imagining can also be a process of celebration’. Florence Welch wrote that sometimes the ideas in her songs become prophecies for future realities. The image making created by film makers has the ability to become the vision of the world that people seek to enact from day to day. Through envisioning the future in sound, vision and dialogue the film maker creates the ideas that constructs the viewers imagination and give direction and motion to actions. Just as the film maker builds future realities, they are also answerable for an individual’s past through the creation of memory and through the world they have built proceeding one’s entrance to our planet. Adventures, journeys, friendships, romances, marriages, characters and names are conceived through the strength of connection to a selection of images created through films. Films create collective states of consciousness that drive the energy of populations to new existences and frontiers.

Films instruct people how to act. An actor uses body language, speech, volume, pitch, costume and setting to inhabit the ideas created in a script. Day to day we are enacting our own lives in a similar way often converting the ideas we have found in film. Films create impressions that individuals focus on and perform. An individual can live inside these impressions, occasionally led by cruel and malicious ideas legitimised because there is a cultural document which has sequenced the perceived emotion. Understandably, but rather worryingly, the Godfather seemed to be the sequence of impressions most important in the Trump presidency.

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