The Dark Knight Rises cinematographer criticises The Avengers; teases sci-fi directorial debut
|NEWS - MOVIE NEWS|
Batman's cinematographer picks sides in the somewhat artificial Batman vs. Avengers debate...
In an interview with the Sarasota Herald Tribune, cinemtographer and long-time Christopher Nolan collaborator Wally Pfister teases his directorial debut:
“I can’t talk too much about it. It’s a present-day science fiction film, a fairly big concept. It’s bigger budget – not as big as Batman, but not independent.”
But never mind that; what are his views on The Avengers? That’s much more interesting, because: Controversy! Superheroes! The word “bonkers”!
“What’s really important is storytelling. None of it matters if it doesn’t support the story. I thought The Avengers was an appalling film. They’d shoot from some odd angle and I’d think, why is the camera there? Oh I see, because they spent half a million on the set and they have to show it off. It took me completely out of the movie. I was driven bonkers by that illogical form of storytelling.”
(Interestingly, the interview now only has the first two sentences from that quote, though the whole paragraph has been widely reported elsewhere, such as at /Film.)
Whether you agree with him or not, you’ve gotta love that last sentence. He invents possibly the best grumpy phrase ever.
He uses the word “appalling”, which is surely an exaggeration, even if you weren’t particularly impressed with The Avengers. It’s the kind of word which pretty much only critics use to describe films, but we’ll let him off because of the outside chance that it was a reference to Yes, Minister.
It’s very reasonable to want a storytelling reason behind the choice of camera angles in a film, especially if that’s what you do for a living. However, film doesn’t just work on a cerebral level, but also an aesthetic one. In this case, the stated intent of director Joss Whedon and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey on The Avengers was to give the film a different visual texture. Whether you feel this was successful or not, it was a deliberate artistic choice.
And while the synergy between cerebral and aesthetic factors in filmmaking can be a wonderful thing, this doesn’t necessarily have to be obvious or even present in every instance. As Joss Whedon himself sings in “Heart, Broken” (one of the songs from Commentary! The Musical on the DVD of Doctor Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog, which is arguably even the equal of things like The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers as far as superhero-related stories go), fans often clamour for definitive answers to questions like, “Why did you choose the colour red? / Why paint a bison if it’s dead?” Basically, people “Pick, pick, pick, pick, pick it apart / To find the tick, tick, tick, tick, tick of a heart…broken…” Whedon’s storytelling choices come from love. That doesn’t mean there are no interesting themes to explore, but it does mean that if you over-analyse it too much, you’ll destroy it and take all the enjoyment out of it.
The rest of the interview includes some more interesting quotes from Wally Pfister, including:
“Working with reality helps reduce the amount of artifice in your work and that is the style of film I appreciate.”
“I’m not a big super hero fan. In terms of the movie-going experience for me, I love the realistic stuff because it’s just that much less formulaic.”
He’s perfectly entitled to his opinion, as is everyone else. Of course, being a talented professional cinematographer, his opinion is more informed than most, but nevertheless subject to subjectivity. These two quotes provide context, making it clear that he’s unlikely to enjoy stylised superhero movies, whereas, of course, many other people do.
What do you think, readers? The Dark Knight Rises or The Avengers? Christopher Nolan or Joss Whedon? DC or Marvel? Or, you know, a more considered, nuanced assessment than the polemics usually favoured by the internet.
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