Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Once upon a time I was an animation student at SVA where, in a film theory class, I was introduced to such filmmakers as Truffaut, Antonioni, Ozu, Bergman, and Eisenstein. I found these foreign films more than challenging. In fact, more often than not, I slept through these films, letting the subtitles lull me to a slumber. Students are a frustrating bunch. On one hand they believe that they are fully formed adults. In reality very, very few students truly take advantage of their school years. One only has to look at the attendance of the average art student. The majority of them miss as many classes as they are allowed to miss without it affecting their grade. Think of the money wasted per each class. What a waste of an education! Most students are simply not ready to absorb their craft and understand how it fits into the world of art and the history of cinema. What a curse that the time in our lives when we have the most potential energy and resources geared towards learning, we choose to squander it.
The saddest students believe their education ends upon receipt of a diploma. As a New Yorker, I’m lucky to have access to foreign, independent and retrospective cinema each and every day. Each film I see fires me full of ideas and inspiration, continuing the education that I was too young to appreciate while at SVA. I live in close proximity to BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), where there is a playhouse, an opera house, and a world class cinema showing new run art house films as well as a generous amount of retrospectives. In the last year I’ve caught BAM screenings of film noir gold (Double Indemnity and The Seventh Victim), foreign films (Loves of a Blonde, Breathless, 400 Blows, Pierrot Le Fou, Last Year at Marienbad–pictured above), and even a guilty 1980s-era pleasure (Desperately Seeking Susan).
Outside of Brooklyn, I was recently dazzled by a screening of the silent film masterpiece, Beggars of Life, at the Walter Reade Theatre. I’m currently working my way through Goddard’s 60s at The Film Forum, where I recently bumped into cartoonbrew’s Amid Amidi. Amid spoke of an animator friend that would only go to one Goddard film per week because she found the films too frustrating. I would use the word, “challenging," instead. Anyone who’s visited a non-English speaking country knows that you use more brainpower looking for the bathroom than you do in your homeland on the same task. Similarly, the sheer foreign-ness of these films makes your brain work harder.
A film education shouldn’t start and end with Star Wars. I am no longer that gangly twenty year old who had trouble sitting through film theory class. Today I have trouble sitting through typical multiplex garbage such as Transformers.