This morning I was glancing around the internet as usual looking for some inspiration and instead I found a whole heap of stupid. It's the kind of stupid you don't expect to find when perusing the broadsheets, it's the kind of Peter Hitchens starey-eyed, brains to the wall, life-threatening thickness that makes you wonder how these people remember to breathe.
What I'm essentially trying to convey here is my amazement at the story printed in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday about people demanding refunds for The Artist. Why? Because there was no dialogue or colour and the picture was a bit smaller than usual and no one gets decapitated by a big muscular man as he carts around a woman dressed only in a pair of breasts. I'm ever so slightly appalled.
The story harks back to last October when outraged morons went into Paddy Considine's terrific and challenging Tyrannosaur expecting something akin to Jurassic Park just without the Hawking-esque intelligence of the velociraptors. Outraged that instead of human catastrophe at the hands of a big lumbering carnivore they got a dog being murdered by an unemployed widower with a drinking problem, they marched to the box-office with all of the righteous outrage of Saddam Hussein at a war crimes tribunal. These people are so dense that I'm surprised that the cinema didn't start to orbit around their ignorance singularity, ironically making their self-imposed predicament inescapable.
I wouldn't take issue with these reports if the people just asked for a refund politely and in most cases I guess they do. However I was actually in the foyer of my local independent when one certain complainer was kicking off about Tyrannosaur and amongst the accusations of false advertising and fraud I suddenly realised that the modern cinema experience can be fraught with idiocy.
Film also report on examples where a theatre in Connecticut had to post signs encouraging their customers to read up on the content of The Tree of Life before purchasing their non-refundable tickets. However the one that takes the all the biscuits is the woman who filed a lawsuit against FilmDistrict because she'd expected Drive to be more like The Fast and the Furious.
Seriously, what possesses people to demand a refund or even a court settlement in these situations? The Drive trailer showed nothing that wasn't in the film. It's not like Considine mis-sold his film by interspersing the downbeat trailer with clips from Dino Crisis. Neither did Michel Hazanavicius who's completely dialogue-free trailer most definitely didn't feature an Orson Welles monologue or some sort of shouty interlude. I mean if you go into something blind and don't like the results how have you been wronged in any way?
If I went around taking titles literally every time I went to the cinema I'd go down to the Phoenix Picturehouse near me expecting (as the OED would erroneously lead me to believe if I amalgamated the definitions of picture and house together like an idiot) "a building containing a painting, drawing, photograph, or other visual representation on a surface that is fit for human habitation, typically and historically one that is the ordinary place of residence of a family" and yet find a building showing films. They should have called it the Phoenix Film Building but even then I might rock up expecting to find a mythical bird there and be so disappointed when there isn't that I go home and lick twice as many windows as usual. And then I'd eat a Mars Bar and get furious when I didn't bite into red rock.
Hazanavicius had a sense of humour when the subject of The Artist's walkouts was broached, saying, "I have been told about it and I think it's hilarious, actually...If I could give any advice to people it would be that they should ask for their money back whenever they see a film they don't expect. If it's not written on the poster 'this is a bad movie' and they think it's a bad movie, ask for a refund!"
Of the more film-literate public, Hazanavicius said that people in general "really enjoy the [silent movie] format and they've discovered that it is a new way to tell a story." That's precisely what it is. A new way to tell a story. Film is about telling stories and evoking emotion and thought. At no point anywhere under any definition of its remit does it say that films should not be silent. Musical accompaniment or no musical accompaniment it's just a widely accepted filmmaking method. Deprive your audience of a picture and film loses its purpose, deprive them of dialogue and it opens up their mind to a pure form of visual story telling.
It's not always a bad thing to be unpleasantly surprised when one goes into a cinema. Why not go with it sometimes, you never know where it might take you...
Unless it's a Michael Bay film, in which case leave and sue everyone.
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