Saturday, April 29, 2006

Paul Auster on the Death of the Silents

Before yesterday's screening of the silent film The Eagle, Roger read a really great passage from Paul Auster's The Book of Illusions:

I liked [movies] in the way that everyone else did — as diversions, as animated wallpaper, as fluff. No matter how beautiful or hypnotic the images sometimes were, they never satisfied me as powerfully as words did. Too much was given, I felt, not enough was left to the viewer's imagination, and the paradox was that the closer movies came to simulating reality, the worse they failed at representing the world — which is in us as much as it is around us. That was why I had always instinctively preferred black-and-white pictures to color pictures, silent films to talkies. Cinema was a visual language, a way of telling stories by projecting images onto a two-dimensional screen. The addition of sound and color had created the illusion of a third dimension, but at the same time it had robbed the images of their purity. They no longer had to do all the work, and instead of turning film into the perfect medium, the best of all possible worlds, sound and color had weakened the language they were supposed to enhance.

3 Comments:

Blogger Robert said...

It's too bad Roger Ebert isn't as nice to UIUC students (or regular festival attendees, for that matter) as he is to his guests.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Dan S said...

How so? I've heard a lot of anectodes about Roger, all of them good.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

Robert's right. Ebert hates young people. He's never been very polite to me when I've met him, except at a book signing.

I don't really hold it against him too much though. He's the world's pre-eminent movie critic. What the hell does he have to give respect to a college student for? He has University Administration ass to kiss.

8:35 AM  

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