Month: March 2009 (page 1 of 4)
Anyway, I showed my students the original short film The Perfect Human that filmmaker Jorgen Leth is asked to remake five times by Lars Von Trier in the feature-length film The Five Obstructions. I thought this would be a nice starting point for our own obstructions project, and I was curious to see if students could appreciate the narrative similarities between short film and microfiction. Here’s the film:
The Perfect Human, 1967
The reaction from my students was less-than-impressed. One student went so far as to say he thinks they should show a film like that to prisoners of war who are being interrogated. They would most certainly crack within the twelve minutes of the film run-time. While my student’s hyperbole generated a laugh or two, I found it curious that reactions would be so negative to this little gem of a film. Granted, it’s not what most of the students are likely used to, but what makes it so unbearable? Is it because it’s “old” and in black and white? Is it the foreign language and the need to read subtitles? Is it the “artsy” feel or the slow methodical examination of the characters? The slight and subtle story arc? I’ll continue to think on this as we progress through the project. Perhaps I will understand it in a few days…
Nothing happens in the world? Are you out of your fucking mind?
–Robert McKee from Adaptation
Anyway, when my students hold tightly to their notions that real life is either too boring to write about or that stories about life do not necessitate conflict, crisis, and change (presumably because that’s not the stuff of life), I am tempted to show them this clip from the brilliant Spike Jonze film Adaptation. Of course, the screen-writing guru Robert McKee (a real guy) is being parodied here and throughout the film as much as Kauffman, himself, is, but just the same, in this clip, he speaks a basic storytelling (and life) truth. Check it out.
I just wonder what my dean might say if I took the same tone with my students that McKee takes with Kauffman. Perhaps I’ll give it a try one day soon in the spirit of better fiction. It couldn’t hurt.