Thursday, January 10, 2013

From Blockbusters to Quartets

I have just been to another movie, this time the gentle, British production called The Quartet. It is unusual for me to see so many movies in such a short time. Within the last few weeks I have seen The Hobbit, Les Miserables, and The Quartet.

The first two movies, although very different, are both massive productions, with oodles of CGI. The last movie is a gentle, small scale human story, with, well... actors. I can enjoy the blockbusters and their special effects; but there is something particularly pleasing about a gentle, very human story, which is about nothing more or less than people and their relationships. Perhaps quite surprisingly, movies like The Quartet perform quite well in today’s market, which seems to always want more, bigger, louder. Per unit of investment, these smaller movies may even perform better than the blockbusters.

There is always a danger that the human element is lost in the large productions. Les Miserables is, of course, also a very human story, and I don’t think this element was lost beneath the huge production numbers, the huge sets (CGI or real) or the huge ideas. Anne Hathaway’s rendition of I Dreamed a Dream was the stand-out moment of the movie for me, and was deeply, deeply personal. I would rather watch that, I would rather watch the subtle interactions between people, I would rather see a smile, a gesture, a word, subtly but masterfully rendered, than all the special effects in the world.

The same is true of what I read. Of course I can enjoy the epic sci fi or fantasy novel, and even the occasional mystery thriller. But what I enjoy most of all is the subtle, truthful portrayal of the human condition.

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