Monday, February 28, 2011

The 100 Most Influetial Canons of World Cinema

     Influence is defined as that intangible power which can affect a person, thing or course of events. Many beleive that motion pictures, more than any art form in the past century, have a profound influence on modern life. I would go further and say, it is hard to argue against that. If one accepts the tenet that directors more than any other creative force in the film production, are responsible for guiding and shaping cinema, then obviously the film directors as a group have had a vastly underestimated effect on how the society thinks and beleive. But which director has had the most influence on other directors, the style, form and content of cinema, as well as on the public? In the past 100 years, which directors have made an indelible impact on our lives and on the art of movie making process? In what ways have the filmmakers helped to define cinema as we know  and see it today? Who are the auteurs, who challanged and broke the traditional notion of filmmaking? Who amongst them have inspired the later generation of filmmakers and have left a real legacy behind? Who are the innovators in the medium of cinematic form and language?

     In the entire history of cinema, there are very few directors who has made an honest effort to rescue cinema as an art when it seems to be drowned in a sea of glamourized triviality, when human relationships on screen have been reduced to predictable banality, sloppy melodrama, extravagant gizmos and money rules the production and distribution of films. Amidst this cinematic catastrophe, crass commercialism, what puts these directors in a class of their own and catapult their films onto a height inaccessible to other filmmakers? It is first and foremost, their uncompromising stance, never to give up attitude against all odds. It is their self beleif that cinema is an art form, and they offer not only a truthful experience to the viewers of real life but also imprint their signature in the film. Their attempt to make other directors aware of the fact that the most convincing of the art demand a special responsibility on the part of those who work on it,because, the methods by which cinema affects audiences can be used far more easily and rapidly for their moral decomposition than any other means of traditional art forms. As Tarkovsky puts in his book"Sculpting in Time" "....We have reached a time when we must declare open warfare on mediocrity, greyness and lack of expressiveness, and make creative enquiry a rule in cinema....The only condition of fighting for the right to create is faith in your own vocation, readiness to serve, and refusal to compromise." An auteur will inevitably put his mark, maybe in the content or the style or both while creating his work of art.

     In todays generation, when discurssive and critical film analysis has been dispensed with, replacing it with box-office standings and popularity ratings by viewer's poll, when big money, studios and profit oriented global distribution system has a vice like grip on the filmmaking process, where there is a general apathy towards serious cinema amongst the general populace (for they use cinema as a stressbuster), where there is a general decline of cinephilia and TV soap operas and "reality" shows provide instant gratification, it is very difficult to stand out, beleive in oneself, take risk and make good cinema. Still, inspite of so many hurdles we see in today's world artists like Kiarostami, Hou Hsien Hsiao, Angelopoulos, Mike Leigh, Lars von Trier and Sokurov making the last ditch effort to save cinema in its pure form.

     The era of silent films is known as the "Golden Age" of cinema. The auteurs of this era overcame the lack of sound by producing visual brilliance. In the abscence of studio interferences these directors were free to experiment and innovate, which they successfully did and laid the foundation of modern cinematic language. Many of these directors successfully graduated into the sound era. Many of them were absolute genius. Jean Renoir describes the fascination this generation holds for its juniors, "I am pursued by the insistent questions of young colleagues for whom everything that preceded the talking film seems as distant and mysterious as the movement of the great glaciers in the prehistoric period. We elders enjoy a respect analogous to what the modern artist feels in front of the graffiti of the caves of Lascaux. The comparision is flattering and brings us the satisfaction of knowing that we weren't wasting film."

     The Golden era of Hollywood began in 1927 with the release of "The Jazz Singer" and it lasted till 1960s. The mode of production came to be known as the Hollywood studio system and the star system, which standardized the way movies were produced. All film workers (actors, directors, screenwriters,editors etc) were employees of a particular film studio. Most Hollywood pictures adhered closely to a genre                                                                                                           

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