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 Posted:   Nov 2, 2013 - 5:00 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)


So who is winning??

I like the article below and what it says about the mysteries of Prometheus.


http://cavalorn.livejournal.com/584135.html

 
 Posted:   Nov 2, 2013 - 5:00 PM   
 By:   RoryR   (Member)

(From work) Wow! Just when the discussion is finally getting interesting, I've lost all interest in it, but at least some people are finally saying why they like PROMETHEUS instead of just that they like it.

Anyway, narrative film where the story doesn't matter?!!!! That's more of a puzzle than PROMETHEUS itself.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 2, 2013 - 5:02 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

(From work) Wow! Just when the discussion is finally getting interesting, I've lost all interest in it, but at least some people are finally saying why they like PROMETHEUS instead of just that they like it.

Anyway, narrative film where the story doesn't matter?!!!! That's more of a puzzle than PROMETHEUS itself.


He, he....glad I could puzzle you during your workday, Rory! wink (what are you doing working on a Saturday night anyway?).

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 2, 2013 - 5:54 PM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

plot isn't that important to me


Sorry, Thor, but that still leaves me totally mystified. To me it's like saying you don't care if a car has wheels. It certainly gives new meaning to the phrase, "Style over substance."

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 2, 2013 - 6:04 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

There are many films where plot is less important than other things, and I'm not sure why that is so difficult to see. You don't usually go into, say, Jean-Luc Godard's PIERROT LE FOU for the plot. You go in for the experimental film language that tries to communicate various ideas through various combinations of image and sound.

It's pretty easy to transcribe this approach to more mainstream films too, especially if the director is an auteur with very distinct trademarks visually, sonically and thematically. Ridley Scott is such a director. Unlike Godard, he makes films inside Hollywood, but his whole approach to the medium allows for 'consumption' of film that IMO goes far beyond just storytelling.

It is on that level I enjoy him and other similiar Hollywood auteurs. If a good story comes with it, great. But storytelling is really only one out many aspects of filmmaking that interest me.

 
 Posted:   Nov 2, 2013 - 6:10 PM   
 By:   Ray Worley   (Member)

I’m kind of baffled by the need of some folks to justify their opinion of this movie by denigrating the opinions of others. And the major bone of contention seems to be that there are story problems and plot holes.
As Thor has pointed out, for many of us, these don’t matter. And that is borne out by the many examples of classic masterpieces of world cinema that either have little or no plot or even contradictory and nonsensical plot points. Many great directors have openly and often stated that story is of little or no importance to them. Sometimes mood, atmosphere, an accumulation of incident, character, even landscape or cityscape are the thing that drives the creative urge and is what the film maker hopes to communicate.
Alain Renais, Michealangelo Antonioni, Jean-Luc Godard, Jaques Tati, Eric Rohmer all made great films that have practically no plot. Films like BLOW UP, THE PASSENGER, LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD and others have deliberately contradictory or unresolved plot issues. More recently, many “mumblecore” films and directors like Whit Stillman use aimless plots that are more about character and incident.
In SF, you can be all about atmosphere and thrills or about big ideas without a strong story.
If you like a strong story and ambiguity or contrariness offends you, then feel free to dislike the movie, but don’t try to tell the rest of us we are “wrong”.
It mostly bothers me that the premise of this thread is that because some people hated the film, a sequel shouldn’t be made.
I dislike the films of Tyler Perry and Adam Sandler, just to name two, but I don’t advocate they shouldn’t be made. I just don’t go see them.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 2, 2013 - 6:13 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Wow, well put, Ray. My sentiments exactly.

 
 Posted:   Nov 2, 2013 - 6:21 PM   
 By:   Ray Worley   (Member)

One more thing...to those who keep saying they don't understand why films don't necessarily need a strong (or any story)...your ignorance of cinema history and theory is showing.
It's OK to not like films without story, but to state that a film without a story is like a car without wheels just shows a lack of film experience.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 2, 2013 - 9:27 PM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

One more thing...to those who keep saying they don't understand why films don't necessarily need a strong (or any story)...your ignorance of cinema history and theory is showing.
It's OK to not like films without story, but to state that a film without a story is like a car without wheels just shows a lack of film experience.


I don't think the discussion here is about a film without a story but about a film with a story that makes no sense; that, because it is a story, needs to make sense but fails to do so because of huge, illogical plot points. This is not "Waiting for Gudot". A situation was already established in Alien and this film purports to tell the story of how that situation arose, which means it needs a certain level of logic and coherence. Basically, it lacks those elements big time.

Consider that if in some ancient village the village storyteller sat down to tell some great epic of the past and, about midway, began rambling and forgetting his plot and characters and relating incidents that made no sense. He'd soon be despatched out into the snow, and rightly so, as he's not doing his job. Now, you and Thor may not require a coherent story without confusion and contradiction, but I suggest that the majority of those who paid good money to get into the cinema do, and it's they who have to be satisfied. What troubles me is how many of those patrons either didn't notice or didn't care about the confusion and contradictions. It suggests, somewhat bleakly, that our powers of perception and comprehension are fast waning in favour of a taste for surface excitement, heavy atmosphere and pretty pictures.

Oh, and as for film theory, I've seen films from the directors mentioned and could make nothing out of them. "Blow Up", to me, was a description of what I would have done with the film. Zabriskie Point was the most irritating, stupid, boring film I have ever seen. Obviously I'm just not intelligent or perceptive enough.

 
 Posted:   Nov 3, 2013 - 12:37 AM   
 By:   Ray Worley   (Member)

Well, it's perfectly OK to argue that you don't like PROMETHEUS because of its story flaws.
The point I was making was that earlier posts by you and 1 or 2 others implied that you couldn't understand how it was possible to judge a film without caring about its story.
I disagree with you about those flaws, but took issue that a movie without a story is like a car without wheels. They may not be to your taste but they are perfectly valid works or art that some of us like.
Don't sell yourself short...you had the intelligence and perception to note that ZABRISKIE POINT was a terrible film. I completely agree. Some great visuals, cool music, but mostly a waste of film.

 
 Posted:   Nov 3, 2013 - 1:32 AM   
 By:   Ian J.   (Member)

For my money, I like to see a 'good story well told'. I have friends for whom story is less important (including plausibility), and aspects like deliberate ambiguity, lovingly crafted visuals and pure character events* are what they 'get off on'. I don't think any less of them for their likes and dislikes.

However, I don't see why we can't have both: a well thought out and executed story alongside good visuals, a bit of ambiguity and the occasional character event. I think I agree that the point with Prometheus is that the story, such that it was, was poorly executed, leaving us wondering just what the writers were being paid for? On watching the documentary on the Blu-ray, I get the impression that the script was rushed due to the unusually short time from starting writing to final release - I gather it was only about two years, which is very little time to refine a story and get the script right before starting principal photography. In my opinion Scott shot himself in the foot with that schedule, but then as others have said, if he gets the visuals he wants he tends to disregard story plausibility. That, however, is now becoming more common in Hollywood films as budgets tighten for the script work, seemingly in order to spend more on visual effects and action sequences.

*by 'pure character events' I mean the ones where the character's actions are driven not by their motivations, but just by their nature. There's no coherent aim for why the character does what they do.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 3, 2013 - 1:09 AM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

It's worth defining here what I think a story is lest we reply to each other on a tangent. It doesn't have to be something with strong narrative propulsion or sequential events leading to a neat ending. I would cite "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf" as having a story, even though (at least in the play) the characters don't move from the house, there's little "action" and the ending is somewhat open. The same could be said for "12 Angry Men", "The Pawnbroker" and a half dozen other films I've thoroughly enjoyed. Just didn't want anyone to think that my idea of a story was impossibly circumspect.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 3, 2013 - 1:34 AM   
 By:   Francis   (Member)

As someone who liked Prometheus, I do find story/plot very important. I agree with Thor that the visuals/symbolism/mood of the film is important and in this case so rewarding, but I disagree with him about the importance of the story as to me that is as important (read vital) as the rest. When I go and see a Ridley Scott movie, I do expect that aspect of the movie to work and to have been paid attention to. For me, given the big themes and scope of Prometheus, the story still holds up despite some of the minor plot holes people pointed out. Visuals and mood aside, the dynamics between the characters are great in this movie, and I personally don't get why people question their actions and motives? Is it because they are not the common folk truckers you saw in the original Alien? I actually liked seeing these characters discussing what was out there and philosophizing about their role in the big picture, they are part explorers and so Prometheus has a 'Trek' heavy element to it as well. Good sci-fi doesn't need to explain or expose everything, but it deals with ideas, themes and possibilities and in that regard Prometheus so far for me paid off. Prometheus as a movie isn't afraid of asking questions and maybe the people who dismiss it so easily should give it another chance. I did so with the original Alien which at first as a teenager I found to be a borefest and after seeing the director's cut in the cinema back when, I appreciated it a lot more and recognized the visuals/mood/cinematography that made it more than just a monster in space movie.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 3, 2013 - 2:52 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Oh, and as for film theory, I've seen films from the directors mentioned and could make nothing out of them. "Blow Up", to me, was a description of what I would have done with the film. Zabriskie Point was the most irritating, stupid, boring film I have ever seen. Obviously I'm just not intelligent or perceptive enough.

I wouldn't say that. It's just that you may not be that attracted to films that aren't primarily story-driven. And that's fine. As long as one can acknowledge multiple approaches to filmmaking. Story is only one possible 'tool' to organize a film. The most dominant one, sure, but not the only one. As the Russian formalist Sergei Eisenstein said: "”…the plot is no more than a device without which one isn’t yet capable of telling something to the spectator”.

The great thing about Hollywood films by auteur directors is that we have a choice -- we can choose to follow the story (whether it's good or bad) or if we're so inclined, explore the ways in which the director explores his themes (often personal themes) through particular audiovisual stamps. Or if one is well-versed in film analysis, one can do both at the same time.

That's the way I approach Ridley Scott, among others.

Francis mentioned ALIEN. That's my favourite example of this approach. The basic plot is extremely simple, almost bordering on naïve: "people flee from monster in dark corridors". But it's the execution, the realization of the fictional universe that IMO makes it the classic it is -- the way Scott, Giger, Goldsmith et.al. explore Freudian themes and traumas trough image and sound (I could specify with loads of examples here, but I'll save that for later). Most of the audience may not leave the theatre, saying "Oh, what a great Freudian experience I've just had", but the film works on that subconscious or subliminal level. If it didn't have that aspect, it would just have been another standard B-horror movie without the 'extra' level of sophistication that it has.

Now, one could argue that PROMETHEUS doesn't have the same level of sophistication, mostly because its philosophical and mythological aspirations are too ambitious for its own good, but it pops up with regular intervals throughout the film.

Finally, I would like to reiterate that I, like Francis, actually found the story surprisingly tight and coherent too -- unlike the majority of critics. Some minor qualms here and there, but nothing that detracted from the overall experience and excellence of the execution. The perfect blend of Hollywood storytelling and 'arthouse' visionary.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 3, 2013 - 10:22 AM   
 By:   Synchrotones   (Member)

There's many, many ALIEN geeks out there that just can't get enough of all things ALIEN.

And this is why a sequel will be made.

 
 Posted:   Nov 3, 2013 - 10:31 AM   
 By:   RoryR   (Member)

There are many films where plot is less important than other things, and I'm not sure why that is so difficult to see. You don't usually go into, say, Jean-Luc Godard's PIERROT LE FOU for the plot. You go in for the experimental film language that tries to communicate various ideas through various combinations of image and sound.

It's pretty easy to transcribe this approach to more mainstream films too, especially if the director is an auteur with very distinct trademarks visually, sonically and thematically. Ridley Scott is such a director. Unlike Godard, he makes films inside Hollywood, but his whole approach to the medium allows for 'consumption' of film that IMO goes far beyond just storytelling.

It is on that level I enjoy him and other similiar Hollywood auteurs. If a good story comes with it, great. But storytelling is really only one out many aspects of filmmaking that interest me.


Well, I thought this thread would sink fast, but I guess I've really started something -- though it's not about just film music. (Not to worry, I'll steer it there in a moment.)

Thor, I just don't understand how you can call Ridley Scott an auteur.

Thirty years ago (Man, how time flies!) I went to college where I majored in, guess what? Film. I know what an experimental film is. I've viewed many -- and many involuntarily too! I had instructors who made no bones of how they thought "Hollywood" narrative film was crap. So please, don't anyone come back at me as if I don't have even a small understanding of where you're coming from. I do get it -- I just simply don't agree. I'm not trying to denigrate anyone's opinions -- just criticizing them. There's a difference between intellectually disagreeing (i.e. criticizing) with someone's tastes and opinions and denigrating them. I think some just don't like their opinions challenged. Personally, I love it when someone tells me they think a film I like stinks, or even that I'm crazy to like it. I enjoy listening to their opposite opinion because that's how you learn.

But as to Ridley Scott being an auteur director. I don't see it in his career. He's been far too commercial for that. Sure, he has a strong visual sense, but... Well, I must confess to not really thinking much about the career of Ridley Scott, but does he write his own scripts? Does he strongly develop his scripts with his writers? Has his films given any indication that he has a strong sense of story and characterization? He is after all at least attempting to construct narrative film, isn't he? To this casual viewer of Scott's oeuvre -- if I may be so pretentious to use that word in a discussion of so cravenly commercial a thing as mainstream American movies (You started with the French terms, Thor, not me.), his movies seem more made by committee (meaning studio product), and very uneven in terms of success (meaning the final quality of them -- quality, of course, being subjective in this case).

Anyway, Scott's history with just Jerry Goldsmith shows to me that he doesn't respect film composers, and so I've remained disrespectful of Scott for nearly thirty years now. I very much like the traditional Hollywood film. Look at how many great films were made under the studio system, then look at how few are being made today when everyone in the industry is a free agent. Look at how there was once a time when the film composers' contribution was recognized as needed for the final product, when a score was valued. What has the "auteur" Scott done in that regard, and for that matter what did the auteur Kubrick do for it? (But that's a matter I'll take up in another thread.)

To hell with the auteur theory! I believe it was discredited many years ago by most mainstream critics. I don't hold with it because there's just too many who make major contributions to the final movie product. The film director is the artistic director, but he (or she -- far too little female directors, you know) hires the people to do their respective jobs. He guides it, rejects or OK's it, but I just don't believe that makes the director the author of the finished film. That's a confusion with relating movies with novels, where there's a definite author to the work. Hollywood narrative films are the evolutionary descendants of plays, not novels. You don't go to a theatre to read a novel, but you do go to a theatre to see both plays and movies. Anyone disagree? Go ahead, challenged me. I love it!

 
 Posted:   Nov 3, 2013 - 10:34 AM   
 By:   RoryR   (Member)

There's many, many ALIEN geeks out there that just can't get enough of all things ALIEN.

And this is why a sequel will be made.


But not to PROMETHEUS. It was a misfire. I have no doubt Fox will try again, but it'll be with another (Oh, God!) reboot.

Anyway, that's my bet. Anyone want to bet?

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 3, 2013 - 11:29 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Rory, for me Ridley Scott is one of the most typical and clearcut auteurs of the Hollywood film industry. The term 'auteur' was actually not coined to describe French directors, it was coined by French writers of the Cahiers de Cinema to describe certain AMERICAN directors as well -- like Howard Hawks, Douglas Sirk or Alfred Hitchcock (OK, the last one is British, but you know what I mean). So yes -- it makes perfectly good sense to use the term about any director who has a clearcut recognizable style and themes running through their filmograhpy. Whether they work inside or outside Hollywood.

For Scott, there are the many thematic currents running through his work -- strong female characters, issues of identity, life cycles. And of course the ideology of envelopping an audience member in a unique fictional universe -- mood, symbolism, viscerality.

On an audiovisual/stylistic level, there are likewise many traits that define his work -- whether it's light flickered through moving objects, floating elements in the air, colour grading, saturated colours etc.

Here's a good book that delves into some of these ideas:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Culture-Philosophy-Ridley-Scott/dp/0739178725

 
 Posted:   Nov 3, 2013 - 12:42 PM   
 By:   RoryR   (Member)

The term 'auteur' was actually not coined to describe French directors, it was coined by French writers of the Cahiers de Cinema to describe certain AMERICAN directors as well -- like Howard Hawks, Douglas Sirk or Alfred Hitchcock (OK, the last one is British, but you know what I mean).

Yes, I know. Have you been watching the multi-part series on film being shown every Monday night on TCM? Not the best such thing I've ever seen, but interesting. The French "New Wave" was covered a couple weeks ago.

Thor, I'm glad you have an idol in Ridley Scott. It's nice to have such a director still making movies (for you anyway). I imagine it gives you something you're excited about to look forward to when you go to the movies. I wish I had the same thing, unfortunately all my favorite directors are dead.

Did you go see THE COUNSELOR? Would you believe I made an attempt to? I did! Last weekend, but when I got to the theatre it was surrounded by police cars and fire trucks because an alarm had gone off in the building and they wouldn't let the public in. When it was finally over, the showings for that period were cancelled. I wasn't willing to wait a couple hours for the next one, so I just went home. Considering how your auteur's latest effort has faired with both the critics and the public, I have to wonder if the gods of cinema weren't looking out for me.

Oh, thanks for the book recommendation, but I'm currently reading two movie related books right now, so it'll have to wait.

(Wow! I just clicked on that link. $76 for a book on Ridley Scott?!!!! Thor.... no way.)

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 3, 2013 - 1:31 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I haven't seen that tv series, no. But I've been analyzing film and reading film theory for a living back when I was an assistant professor at the university, so I'm very interested in such things. Thanks for the recommendation!

THE COUNSELOR premieres in Norway on November 15th, and of course I'll go and see it. From what I understand, it has received a lot of negative reviews, but also some glowing ones. Whatever the case, a new Ridley Scott film is somewhat of an event for me. He's my second favourite director of all time.

 
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