Monday, July 12, 2010


MOST classic movies today are viewed on some form of video, which skews the artistic experience. The artwork is thrown out of balance. A movie is intended to be larger-than-life, with images blown-up on a large screen. The compositions, proportions, sound, acting, even the texture of film, are thrown off when the film isn't viewed as film, as a movie. This is one reason I can think of for the faulty judgement of film critics-- unless something else is going on. A movie has to be viewed as a movie-- with an understanding of what a movie is; the nature of the art. (At its most basic, the conjunction of photography and sound.)

"El Cid" played for one day, two showings, at New York City's Film Forum. Meanwhile, "Breathless," another classic, has been shown for seven weeks. This is because, as with literary stories, there's a built-in brainwashed audience. For fifty years "Breathless" has been hailed by film critics and in universities as a great work of movie art. Which it may well be-- but "El Cid" is better, as a movie, as a viewing experience, as art. In addition, it's a more intelligent film, with more for an intelligent person to think about. Given our post 9/11 world, there is much in "El Cid" to think about. It's more relevant today, by far, than when it came out.

More important is the viewing impact, which is tremendous, and can be fully sensed only if the 70mm epic is viewed on a movie screen.

There's a scene toward the end, briefly showing the torture of a major character, when members of the audience audibly gasped. A standard "movie" moment which can be experienced only when the film is viewed as a movie. A better example is right before the end, when the Cid on his steed rides out of the Valencia gates in a blaze of sunlight. This is one of the most beautiful single shots in movie history-- no way would it have the same impact if not experienced properly; and so without seeing it properly, the overall film wouldn't be assessed properly. That one shot alone, for a film buff, is worth the price of admission. It's a strikingly beautiful moment within a strikingly beautiful movie.

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