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It's important to note, though, that this is a difference of appearance not reality. The "captured" scenes are also manufactured. It's a question of what effect the creators of the film want to instill in viewers, isn't it? They manufacture a scene of apparent naturalness in order to achieve something, to make something happen for the viewer (I don't know if I can say what that something is -- perhaps empathy or understanding).

What you feel when viewing a natural film, and your preference for that feeling over that of stylized filming, doesn't necessarily mean stylized films are inherently inferior. It could be argued that achieving true empathy and pathos in a stylized film is a higher artistic achievement, because it is more difficult to do. And I think Seven Samurai, actually, is a good example of a stylized film (few scenes in that movie strike me as natural or purely life-like) that still manages to evoke empathy.

It's interesting to think about films along this axis, though. I appreciate the distinction and the difference. Thanks.


Interesting post, Parmanu, but our notions of realism in cinema are often simplistic. Some movies that appear stylized/melodramatic/unrealistic can often reach deeper, more poetic truths than films that are "realistic" in the obvious sense.

Glad to see the above comment by Andru because he's said nearly everything I wanted to. (Especially "What you feel when viewing a natural film... doesn't necessarily mean stylized films are inherently inferior.")

Also, while I'd agree about Seven Samurai being a better film than Lagaan, I wonder how much our perception about Lagaan's village life being "manufactured" has to do with the fact that as Indians we are more familiar with the milieu (and with the actors, whom we've seen in a variety of other roles).


It occurred to me, in the hours since reading this, that what distinguishes naturalist films from stylized ones is how sublime they feel. I may love Seven Samurai or, a more obvious counter example, Fellini's 8 1/2 more than Pather Panchali or Ten or Ozu's Tokyo Story (I'm not saying I definitely do, but I just might), but those latter, more naturalist pictures are much more sublime experiences. I think that may be what you're talking about Parmanu.


Andru and Jai, thank you for bringing more clarity to this matter. I've been struggling a bit to understand and explain my responses to some of these films, and I feel I'm getting closer.

You are right: stylised films are not inferior - in a general sense - to naturalist ones. But my responses to each kind tend to be different. Andru, your remark about naturalist films leading to "sublime experiences" is very true. It's the difference between a magician giving a show (you are dazzled by his performance, but in the end you know he used some device to create an effect), and a mystic turning water into wine (this, for you, is a religious experience). The magician cannot be called inferior to the mystic.

Pather Panchali came close to being a religious experience (do not ask me what that is), and so did A Taste of Cherry.  In both cases, the use of stylistic devices may not have led to this effect - simplicity is key.

Jai, it is strange that you brought up the point about familiarity with the actors - I've sometimes wondered how much more "real" movies would feel if each actor was allowed to act in just one movie in his or her lifetime, not more!


...and thank you for reminding me to go back to watching good films


Btw, know what you mean about Pather Panchali being like a religious experience - I wrote in this post about the hypnotic effect the film has on me.


I haven't anything of substance to add (at least not in my current sleep deprived state) but I must say I'm pleased to see three of my favorite bloggers talking with each other here. I agree with much that's been written.

I do hold Pather Panchali in the same regard as you guys do. It's the simple sublimity of it, the generous life in it, that I dare hope to replicate for when I sit down to do my own work. And when I read about Satyajit Ray, and his approach to filmmaking, and the story of his Apu trilogy, I feel even better about watching and loving the films.


Teju: You're right about bloggers with similar interests "talking" to each other in the same space: though short, such interactions are satisfying in a strange, inexplicable way.

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