Saturday, January 26, 2008

The phenomenon of Cinema Series

With the opportunity of Golden Compass I want to discuss a new cinematic phenomenon: the series. The return Of Jedai was probably the first film that didn’t have an ending but prepared the spectators for the next episode. Nowadays, there are more and more series on the screen. The three films on middle earth (The Fellowship of the Ring, The two towers, The return of the King) seem to have created a new trench. Now we have the MatriX trilogy, Narnia, Harry Potter, Golden Compass, Xmen and so on. These film are a little bit different from the James Bond Series or the horror series of the 80’s (Nightmare on the Elm Street). They were conceived from the beginning as series. Sometimes the film does not have an ending. Spectators have to wait for the next film to have a satisfying end. On the other hand James Bond or horror series got a new episode only because they were successful in their first attempt. They were not preconceived as series. Moreover these films have an ending even if it is an open one that will allow some continuance. I wonder how the film companies decided to take the risk of creating a film with no ending. Didn’t they think that the spectators would be annoyed? I remember someone telling me that he chose not to see the trilogy of the ring until all films were finished and out so that he could see them all together. Since then though I have heard no other complaining about the no ending thing.
Series offer a sense of security. When you go to see a film you take a risk. I am not talking about the risk of not liking the film you chose to see. The more grievous risk is whether this film will make you comfortable or create an anxiety. Will you be able to take it in and handle it or will it unbalance you more than it should? In a series you have a feeling of security. More or less you know what you will see. You are already familiar with the heroes and the situation. There is no risk involved. It is like getting your old slippers on. They are comfortable and warm and cozy. An episode is already safe and familiar but has the advantage that will offer something new, a development on the same old story. You don’t have to take any risks. You don’t have to make the extra effort to get to know the character and recognize them. You don’t have to invest emotionally into them all over from the beginning.
On the other hand art (and cinema is art) should be dangerous so that there is some edge and clarity at the experience it offers. And there are so many different options, characters to get to know, new experiences to live through fantasy and film .Why should you stuck to the same over and over again? In film you are already on the side of the security since it’s the hero that suffers the consequences not you. You have the chance to live his experiences without any real suffering. Why would the extra safety net of the series be needed? Is our world so exhausting emotionally that we don’t manage to do even that: invest in different films with various characters and plots? Do we need the safety of security provided by series and even remakes? The big brains of Hollywood have found the new lure. We go to cinema in order to get re united with people we already know facing the problems that faced the previous year and the year before. Then we complain that our daily life is repetitive and dull. Isn’t that strange?

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