Τετάρτη, 19 Δεκεμβρίου 2012

IMDb - Review for "Amour"

Cinematic sadism and technique without Art!, 18 December 2012

Author: Costas Papachristou from Athens, Greece

A friend recently sent me a PowerPoint file – one of those that are regularly circulating the Internet. At first glance, it contained some relatively good black and white photos. In the end, however, there was a revelation that left the viewer speechless: these were not photographs but drawings made by hand!

My initial, spontaneous reaction was, "what an artist"! I then thought it over: Is it really the purpose of Art a faithful and accurate depiction of reality? If so, then what necessitated such a painstaking effort on the part of the sketcher? Even a moderately talented photographer would have undoubtedly done a better job! Imitating the perfection of photography is not a matter of Art; rather, it is a matter of technique!

Similar comments apply to the cinema. Thus, for example, the creation of a film that mimics the (often hard) realism of a documentary, without the necessary symbolic intervention of a more personal philosophical or ideological filter, may be the work of a good technician but hardly that of an artist.

These were my thoughts as I watched the end credits of Michael Haneke's "Amour" (France-Germany-Austria, 2012). Using two brilliant veteran actors (Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva) and taking advantage of his directorial perfectionism where even the slightest detail counts (the first scene with the pigeon, whose shadow is momentarily visible on the glass as the bird flies off the window, deserves an Oscar in itself!), Haneke succeeds in creating a perfect representation of "next- door misery". However, where exactly is Art in all this?

Many viewers may have hastened to recognize a "humanitarian" transformation of Haneke since the notoriously sadistic "Funny Games" (1997). Please allow me to question the "humanism" of "Amour". Personally, I detected a more elaborately disguised sadism toward the viewer, whom the director continues to "punish" for seeing his films! In a sense, the feelings of horror in "Funny Games" are somewhat softened by the totally unrealistic nature of the plot. In "Amour", on the contrary, the director plays almost malevolently with the worst fears of everyday people, notably, their vulnerability to illness and death...

I continue to believe that the main purpose of Art is to create beauty – even when representing the ugly and unpleasant sides of life. Art, therefore, is expected to function as a therapist of the soul. The cruel –even if technically masterful– imitation of harsh reality, without the balsam of catharsis so desperately needed by the soul, constitutes, in my opinion, a deflection from the primary objectives of Art. I might even call it a forgery of life!

Source: IMDb

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