Friday, January 15, 2010


I'm out of touch.

In the last few years, I've taken a first semester class at the film school here in Melbourne, introducing the concepts and ideas behind narrative cinema. It's a nice gig, really. Watch and talk about films that I love. Films like Battle of Algiers, Shadows, 400 Blows, Sunrise, Vivre Sa Vie, North by Northwest, Imitation of Life, The Bicycle Thief. Nice.

What is strange in this class is that over the few short years that I've taken it, when I show Andrei Tarkovsky's Zerkalo (Mirror), the students, who are mostly in their late teens, early twenties, seem to get unreasonably angry. And the anger has increased, semester by semester.

This last year was a surprisingly funny peak of fury with one film student almost beside himself when the room lights came up. Strangely, this anger seems to be impossible to articulate, other than stammering expressions of frustration at the lack of 'story' - fucking Robert McKee has a lot to answer for. I am no closer to understanding why it seems to get the students so riled. For me, it's impossibly beautiful. And, I distinctly remember the day I was shown this film by Sydney filmmaker Jackie Farkas. A sense of wonder. Losing my breath at this opening sequence as it cut to the title:

Does this make you angry? Not me. How about this beyond sublime camera move?

I'm not saying it's the perfect popcorn flick, but why the rage? I'm bewildered. Out of touch. Any hints much appreciated.

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