Monday, January 26, 2009

SAG and ACADEMY Awards Thoughts

Last night I watched the SAG awards. I had not seen any of the movies, but I did have something to go on. It is a personal essay one of our Bandon Writers shared with us last week. Anne Mattingly is a long-term member of the Screen Actors Guild, American Mensa Society, and the Bandon Writers.

Am I Alone Here?
by Anne Mattingly

When did it become acceptable to watch people micturate, vomit and defecate on screen? Recently, I watched two of the most highly rated films of the season, Slumlord Millionaire and The Reader. In the former there was a lengthy scene of a young boy defecating then jumping into a pool of feces. In the latter, we saw the most graphic course of vomiting ever filmed. I find these bodily functions to be disgusting and difficult to watch.

I understand that films today are meant to be more realistic than ever before. Would the films be lessened in verisimilitude if the lead up to the act of vomiting were captured but not actually seen? Could we not be watching the sick boy's back? Or perhaps we could cut away to the empty street? As for the little Indian boy in the public toilet, could there not have been someway to give us the information without shoving our faces in the feces?

Among my favorite films are Cavalcade, Citizen Kane, and Gone with the Wind. Does anyone complain that these films were lacking because we were not treated to human evacuations? Did we think Kane less of a man because we did not watch him urinate? When Scarlett swore she would never go hungry again would you have preferred to watch her in the midst of the drive heaves which so often accompany starvation? In Cavalcade, when the sons grew up in late 19th century England, would it have improved the story if we'd have seen them sitting on chamber pots then observing the servants dropping the contents into the gutters?

The heroes, villains, and supporting casts of films need only make us believe they are who they are meant to be. They have many tools to accomplish this. They have their voices, their expressions, their make-up, their talent in breathing life into the words of the screenplay. The director has music and editing to add to his vision. Can we not merely assume that the characters micturate, defecate, and, on occasion, vomit? Do we really need to see it? ( February 17, 2009)


An English Shepherd said...

I agree the best films always leave lots to your imagination :-)

Van said...

No no no - we don't need to see the reality. I am watching less and less - saving money for roses, sweet music, quiet moments, and time with friends.

Angela said...

Are we old-fashioned? We have also long ago stopped going to the theatre because of all the "realistic" scenes we had to see there. And such movies make me sick. I don`t need that to understand a scene. My imagination works with other tools. Maybe we are fossils?

Matawheeze said...

grumlaI agree with Anne. The bodily functions may be reality but we are all aware of them and few of us enjoy sharing ours with an audience or being an audience to them. Films of quality do not need those scenes and those scenes to not give a bad film quality. Unfortunately many folks flock to such nonsense and while there is an audience for it, there it will be.

Crystal said...

Hear! Hear!! I agree with her completely. I intensely dislike all the talk and the sights of bodily functions that seem so prevalent today. It's so unnecessary.

dusty said...

I am nowhere close to retiring, I could really use the direction and maybe some advice or knowledge from someone with the experience that a retired may have.