Film Realism

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Film Realism or Manipulation

Audience, audience, audience. When posed with the question as to which form a film should take, either through a realism outlook with raw material or a manipulation of reality, these decisions are based on the audience. The ability to understand who your audience is will determine where the filmmaker will garner its power.

The text references a 15 year-old girl in front of a romantic movie and a 10 year-old boy in front of an action film. It continues to explain the value and reason of tapping into their own individual stimuli based on life experiences. The girl traditionally with the romantic film will more likely connect with a film made in the realism vein depicting unabashed romance (The Longest Ride – 2015) where the young boy will be physiologically moved by large, simulated explosions. (Captain America: The Winter Soldier – 2014)

When taking these two types of films that would probably never be considered “art house” film. But both can be looked at with a tone of criticism focusing on the practical aspects of the film, (story, production, sfx’s) and with the attempted explanation of theory, supported by sub-textual ideas as to why the director made the film or the deeper messages behind cowboys, love and destiny.

It’s not an abstract philosophy for filmmaker to be versed in both theory and practice. Brian Bird, a Hollywood producer and writer sums it perfectly. “The average person knows a couple of the famous artist, Davinci, Picasso, Michelangelo. But does anybody know who their teachers were. All of them had an instructor to teach them the fundamentals. And as those fundamentals were developed, the individual skill of the world famous artists began to manifest.” What Brian was saying was film form (technical side) influences film function (emotional effect).


The use of camera angles is a simple example towards that manipulation. Wide shots establish geography, mid shots create a sense of belong with the audience, close up are more intimate and the use of Dutch angles create uneasiness and tension. Applying these film grammar theories even with films that are argued to be under the umbrella of realism, manipulation is taken place.

Another tool for manipulation not spoken about is in music. There have been plenty of examples of how different music creates different feelings and tone. Is this not also manipulation? I will argue though, without proper film form, the desired results of those sub-conscious responses cannot be achieved if not built with a proper format. There must reside some basic rules of application when creating films. Especially now in our culture where the art of film has been established by many fantastic filmmaker from the past. They have essentially set the standard.

Even under the genre of documentaries that are supposed to be raw and unadulterated, resonates manipulation with certain editing techniques and choices.

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