Originality in film , as in art, is something that many creators struggle with. Everything is made in this world, there is no possibility to be innovative, this seems to be discouraging for people who want to tell their story, but feel like it’s already been told.
However for those who are well versed in the craft there is no struggle too big to overcome, because those who understand the mechanics of filmmaking know that things in film don’t just happen, they have to happen in an interesting way – it’s this little proverb that we find in many film books and that has been the centerpiece for many film theoreticians and historians when it comes to explaining the magic of film.
How do things happen in an interesting manner? Well that’s where your talent, soul and knowledge come in, to imprint your very essence into your work of art that it lives parallel to you and that it represents you everywhere you and it goes. Originality might seem like it’s left to a total individualistic spark in the creative mind, but we see that film is not isolated and originality can exist within the rules that is has set up over the years.
Originality today simply is this, to find things that have always been there, but that have not been used. For film it’s this given fact, that something just is, and it’s the way we present it and tell it which makes all the difference in the aesthetic pleasures that it brings.
Let’s see how the authors in our given examples of film dealt with the problems of originality which at first seem too hard for many. Here is the list of the top 10 most original films of the 21st century.
10. Birdman by Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu
Birdman is set in the art world. Specifically the world of theatre which is what filmmakers love. The most thrilling thing that Inarritu did was probably work in a theatre and film setting simultaneously. These two worlds have their own set of rules and yet they are very similar when it comes to the relationship they have with the audience, which seems to play a big role in the way the story is told and the way it develops.
Innovation is something that theatre is pretty open to implement, however as with all art the tendency to ,,break the fourth wall” here opens up a whole different discussion into the very relationship between the viewer and the creator. Theatre and film are just a medium which Inarritu uses to scratch a bigger issue. The issue is ourselves and how are we presented through these mediums and how the human condition can develop when it’s thrown in the world of acting, dance, performance and culture.
We are witnessing the breaking of two beings, the world within the character – Birdman, and the world within which he functions – fiction. Fiction functions on multiple layers in the film, life itself is never separated from the circumstances that apply to fiction. This gives a feeling of uncomfortableness which we are left with in every frame.
9. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… And Spring by Kim Ki-duk
With many films in the 21st century as we said it’s not what they tell, it’s how it’s told. This feature is very noticeable in Asian films, who using their rich spiritual tradition have been set apart from the Western cinema in how they convey emotion, situation, conflict, building tension and portraying beauty.
Nature is a vital aspect in Asian cinema, as well as Eastern philosophy. Nature is a character of its own, the atmosphere is the main character in which all the others just fall into. They are overwhelmed by the causality that is being revealed slowly to them. The title of this films tells it all, it’s a film about the seasons, we all have a season and each season has its unique aspect to it. Seasons vary, but some things remain a constant. It’s the laws of nature that remain as such.
Nature is applicable to life, as nature changes, so do we, however nature is too big to actually notice change in her. This film gives us a perspective into how things can move slow and yet still manage to be interesting. It’s this aspect of Eastern philosophy that is flowing through the blood vessels of the film, that brings us closer to a more meditative viewing of the audio-visual experience instead of just experiential.
8. The Turin Horse by Béla Tarr and Agnes Hranitzky
European cinema is not that present in this list, however its representative is enough to show us where it’s going. Europe has always had that feeling of being more abstract than the US. While Hollywood has its own development and share of experiments in the cinematic experience, Europe has remained constant as a place for avant-garde. Even though we may view European society as being all dried up recently, it still can breathe out the final stories it has to tell from its rich tradition.
The Turin Horse is a great Ode to the masters of European storytelling, its basic theme is that which led Europe to become a thinking continent, a continent where reason started to reign supreme as it plunged itself into the newest era. Reminiscent of the authors on the screen that came before him Tarr really hits the spot in giving us that overall feel that ticks with the spirit of Europe.
This movie as with many on the list takes its slowness as a representation of everyday life. It seems movies have left the idea of being something that is far from the daily lives of the viewer, and instead through a decade long development have learned to become that life itself.
7. The Handmaiden by Park Chan-wook
A period drama that sees a far-Eastern director tricking us and playing with our point of view? Seems like it’s the type of thing you would see if you know Asian cinema in its best quality. Bursting with eroticism in every angle The Handmaiden is a lovely look into the mentality of people who rule over people and people who are ruled over by people. The most vicious of conflicts arise when we are forced to do something and if something is not complementary to our nature of being free.
Freedom plays a big aspect in The Handmaiden, it’s through a very tight situation that we get to see what happens as we slowly are given each piece of the puzzle. The film distracts us with the Eastern aesthetics of calmness, while simultaneously presenting us with characters that do not fit into that dreamy visual storytelling.
The spiritual traditions of the East always seem to overlap with the actual feelings of the people who live with those value systems. It seems like a more trapped world, but it’s through a trapped world that we realize how free we actually can be, and how free at our very core we are.
Sexuality plays a big role in defining the character motivations . It’s the method the director uses to bring us closer into the minds of his characters, and here again we see their captivity. It’s beauty that keeps us baring with the situations that are happening as the story unfolds. Beauty that we rarely see in films today.
6. Your Name by Makoto Shinkai
Love is the driving force behind Your Name. It may seem like a very used theme in art, however it’s the potential that love has in media, and that is to be told differently in a different story. It really gives us a hint into what the creator of the story can do with this age old emotion that is sometimes said to govern all the rest.
Such is the case in Your Name, the captivation with one another find our two main protagonists in a life that leads them towards each other even if the whole world is to be turned and flipped upside down, and not just the world but the laws that govern it and the standards which society has set.
The very fabric of what we know and what is, is geared towards this fated meeting. Time is functioning in tune with the emotions of the characters. The universe is tuned finely to reveal the greater love which is this – the need to have someone in your life that is active in every atom.
You might unwillingly be placed in a situation outside your control, but imagine a situation in which everything is according to a grander scheme that impacts the very core of your existence. Your Name is the place where to find that.