Is “realism” real?

The Lumiere Manifesto discusses important aspects to produce a true Lumiere. Meet the world at eye level, film events that are already happening without intervention, and use footage that does not need an explanation. More specifically, rules are 60 seconds max, fixed camera, no audio, no zoom, no edit and no effects.

There are aspects of the manifesto that I think are valid, but other things I disagree with. Firstly, “The cinema is an invention without a future” has been proven to be totally inaccurate. Film is constantly progressing as now many major film companies move into 3-d. I also disagree with the idea that editing always “destroy[s] important viewpoints.” Sometimes, editing can only emphasize and better portray a specific message. Sometimes, filming cannot be done as it happens without intervention. As I heard Chris Palmer speak at a reception earlier this year, he talked about the wildlife documentaries he and others do and how sometimes you have to coax the animals to do certain things to recreate nature. You can’t wait around for months until a lion catches a gazelle. It  would be great to have footage that is truly organic, but, these days very few documentaries are. I’m not saying I agree with that though, but I think under certain circumstances it’s okay to recreate a moment.

The one things I do agree with in the Lumiere Manifesto is the lack of effects. Though I myself love adding effects to movies or presentation I do, when it comes down to it, I prefer a more effective story line when watching clips. I think the content should be able to carry itself without any additives.

I believe film can only be realistic if the subject does not have a brain or the camera is totally concealed. People are different in front of cameras than they are in real life. Whether they are more expressive, shyer or try to seem cooler than they really are, cameras make people’s behavior unnatural. This can potentially be true for animals as well, but that’s not always the case.

The article “It’s Unreal..” talks about synthesized realism. As a society and viewers of films, we are confused what is suppoised to be real and what’s not. This is specifically talking about movies that are not documentaries. Though people know many aspects are special effects or fake, those that appear at all realistic sometimes form a spot in our brain that that’s how the real thing is. Tom Clancy is mentioned as people get an inaccurate idea of military from reading his books. Parents often voice concerns that violent video games with guns and weapons can give their children the wrong idea that guns are easy to operate and it’s okay to use them. If someone is in your way, you can just shoot them – and violent video games can be traced back to child shootings.

I personally have formed opinions from movies that I know may not be fully accurate. As I have started planning my summer and have chosen to do the AU summer in LA program, I worry that LA will be very frightening simply from what I see portrayed in movies and in TV shows in Entourage. I have no factual basis for my worries but I just assume that since it seems realistic in movies, that’s what the environment is really like.

In conclusion, I don’t think film can ever be truly real. Unless a camera is invented that can fit in someone’s eye like a contact lens (totally concealed) subjects will act differently than in nature. Film makers use effects to get the desired footage or message across and this often confuses the viewers and makes them think that’s reality. At this point, the closest thing to real is a reenactment of a story. At least in this case, people aren’t changing to give themselves a desired image.

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