My little sister is currently a Freshman at the University of Michigan and is studying film. She recently went on a rant about how much she doesn’t appreciate certain kinds of experimental film. I told her to put it into word form so I could share it with the world. Enjoy, or don’t, whichever way you feel.
Prisms of Light: Less Than Illuminating
Ann Arbor’s beloved film festival has arrived and of course every local “film enthusiast” is preparing for nearly a week of bizarrely-crafted independent, experimental cinema. The Ann Arbor Film Festival is a very cool thing due to the fact that it only requires a $50 admission fee, therefore allowing a multitude of new filmmakers (with unknown talent) an opportunity to exhibit their work. However despite this, this festival is home to some of the strangest, most unnecessary and confusing cinema I have seen to date, or as most people call it: experimental film. However, this isn’t about the Ann Arbor Film Festival, nor is it necessarily about all experimental film. This is about the specific sector of film in which you sit quietly in a theater watching sporadic colors and shapes slowly morph into an elementary school or maybe a shoe, in a short 114 minutes.
I suppose experimental film is interesting because you are able to see a more expressive and creative side of film, but unfortunately in order for the film maker to have this control, the audience pays a price. Frankly, most experimental films tend to be bland, boring, and insignificant. Unfortunately, all of the middle-aged women/men sporting Birkenstocks, drinking red wine who live solely for opportunities to search for such complex meaning, “art” and symbolism that doesn’t exist are what fuels the hype over these experimental films. One specific film titled “Rhythmus” by Hans Richter (1921) comes to mind here. This short film showcases a lot of black and white squares moving around. Like, for three minutes I am watching dully colored geometric shapes grow and shrink in size. I could pretend that I am a scholar and intellectual who notices that the black and white squares actually represent the racial unrest and prejudices within modern society, but honestly I really think it’s just a collection of boxes, and don’t lie, you do too! Sure, there may be some important meaning that Richter was trying to communicate, but if there was, where is it and how is an audience ever supposed to understand that? If you give me moving boxes, I see moving boxes. My film professor brought up the idea that some experimental films are made solely for the purpose of letting the audience interpret what it means. Of course people can come up with some sort of meaning, but if they aren’t getting the filmmakers idea, then please someone tell me, what is the point?
It never really occurred to me what the true meaning of film is until I discovered the folly nature of most experimental film. While the purpose of film may be different for everyone, I realized that to me it makes most sense for the goal to be communicating to the audience; to share a little something from your brain and put it out there for the public to rave over or shred to pieces. These pseudo-intellectual films showcasing nothing but colorful prisms or exploding stars may be communicating an idea, but if no one is going to understand you, is that beneficial at all? Creative film is meant to express yourself, and if you don’t have anything to say then please don’t bother wasting space with insignificant swirls of light.”
Fin. [screen fades to black]