Monday, 29 December 2008

Cast and crew neglected by film buffs and sometimes directors?

More often than not, film buffs and critics and the like talk mostly about the director or "auteur" of a film rather than the cast and crew; to which cursory attention is paid. Directors themselves often seem to place themselves above others who work in film, even great ones like Roman Polanski, who said -

"The best films are because of nobody but the director."

This may just be coming from his ego, as from his films one can gather that Polanski understood the collaborative process of film very well. But while the director, or sometimes "auteur" may be the creative force behind the film, I submit that the best films are because of nobody but the director, cinematographer, actor, actress, tea-boy, caterer, cameraman, lighting man, makeup lady (sorry if I'm stereotyping), composer, producer, music superviser, editor, casting director, production designer, art director, set decorator, costume designer, assistant director, sound-man, special-effects man, stuntman, electrical supervisor, title designer, and last but definitely not least; the writer, often a huge creative force behind a film. For who can watch Citizen Kane and not see that it couldn't have worked not only without Orson Welles as director, with his distinctive and powerful visual style, but without the cast, cinematographer (who could fail to notice), and of course Orson Welles the actor. For no-one else could have possibly played Charles Foster Kane, at least not the Charles Foster Kane I know, although I don't know him fully (I don't think anyone does). And no-one else but Agnes Moorehead could have played his cold mother; no-one else but Joseph Cotton could have played Jed Leland. So film is without a shadow of a doubt a collaborative process, despite the elitist attitude of some critics and auteurs, like Hitchcock and his "cattle" theory. Often great directors have mistreated their collaborators, most famously Fritz Lang; who threw Peter Lorre down a flight of stairs on the set of "M," Billy Wilder who bullied his assistants, and Hitchcock who sexually harrassed women and played cruel practical jokes on people. This inherent lack of humility in some famous directors I maintain is the product of ego, for they still knew how to collaborate, and knew that without those around them they wouldn't be much. Robert Bresson's disliked actors, and opted to use non-professionals or "models" in his films. As great a director as he was, he was very much against acting as a profession, or anything as a profession perhaps.

And I myself am guilty of being painfully ignorant of so many involved in the making of a film. So now I've decided upon watching film credits the whole way through, and reading every name that comes up. And the director is definitely not the only one with a whole creative vision, for would Chinatown have worked without Robert Towne and his knowledge and experience of California, and what would Tarantino the director be without Tarantino the writer? Direction is simply and obviously the combination of every important as the director is, he/she simply points...

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