quite naturally, as (ice) hockey is the most profound expression of human beauty, the purest form of cinema is cbc hnic opening montages
but seriously, after having spoken with several people on this matter, i’ve concluded that nobody with even the slightest modicum of intelligence can’t help but recognise the cinematic merit of professional sports, both as a gripping narrative and as a production of visual poetry. which sport is the best is strictly a matter of opinion…
…that being said, there’s a case to be made for awarding the distinction to a sport whose narrative, at the highest level, has been confined primarily to one league for nearly a century, and whose poetry is one of the human form gliding along ice, as opposed to awkwardly and choppily running around, as is the foundation of most other popular sports
but like i initially said, it’s strictly a matter of opinion. some might rather watch running on grass than gliding on ice. similarly, some might rather drink mud than water
sports as cinema can be a tricky beast for a number of reasons. the production never ends. it’s hard to say when it began. events which take place which are never recorded contribute to the viewer’s experience. you need substantial technical knowledge to understand the production. in certain instances, the production needs to be viewed live to be appreciated. everything that’s ever happened in the sport is canon, and the more canon you know, the more you can appreciate the sport. etc etc etc
this makes what cbc has been doing for the past few years all the more impressive. highlight packages already capture both the narrative and the poetry of sports, but highlight packages fucking stink because they’re sterile. they’re the sports equivalent of those shitty educational documentaries on 16mm that you watched in class when you were a kid. montages, on the other hand, are so heavily edited that they are technically fictions (they have to be; they’re using past footage to discuss the future), although the sentiments that they express are 100% true to life and they star performers who are playing themselves without cognisance of the fact that they were being filmed for this production. what the fuck, right. the purest form of cinema!
Chris Marker made some of those “shitty educational documentaries on 16mm.”
And there isn’t a filmmaker on earth that has ever gotten closer to the “purity” of cinema than Marker.
Not even close.
Falderal, Bresson would like to speak to you
Though I love Marker
John, Bresson has the purest haircut in cinema, but not the purest form.
Boxing is the most dramatic sport IMO. It’s not a coincidence that there are more movies about boxing than any other sport.
^That’s just begging for some data to back it up.
Number of IMDB films with the following keywords:
boxing – 1432
swimming – 1349
wrestling – 1326
baseball – 1228
running – 1154
basketball – 1030
soccer – 1018
mixed-martial-arts – 911
football – 858 titles
tennis – 664
golf – 656 titles
american-football – 620
skiing – 428
diving – 531
surfing – 394
billiards – 376
ice-skating – 362
horse-racing – 341
bowling – 320
hockey – 284
rodeo – 283
ice-hockey – 275
archery – 257
fencing – 253
sailing – 243
skateboarding – 227
bullfighting – 203
weightlifting – 184
volleyball – 173
automobile-racing – 160
cricket-the-game – 154
ping-pong – 141
rugby – 120
polo – 98
rowing – 96
cycling – 92
gymnastics – 90
snowboarding – 87
croquet – 77
handball – 77
softball – 66
darts – 47
eating-contest – 47
badminton – 44
tug-of-war – 39
racquetball – 31
rollerblading – 27
curling – 24
lacrosse – 23
water-polo – 18
field-hockey – 13
kickball – 6
ultimate-frisbee – 6
luge – 4
bobsledding – 3
A lot of these are probably not what the film is “about”. It might only be featured or even just mentioned. Also a lot of these tages are probably not specifically for sports, like “running” because of some practical reason. But still it’s pretty remarkeable boxing is at the top. The only thing I could think of that might be a sport that has more than boxing is “shooting” but most surely the majority of these tags aren’t about shooting as a sport.
Not data that definitively backs up the fact that there are more films about boxing than any other sport, but still, it’s pretty supportive.
Thanks RISSELADA, now you know I wasn’t just talking out of my ass Dib.
Boxing/Drama and film have nothing to do with one another. Its like saying that red is the most colorful color because most paintings use red, or something of that nature.
“Thanks RISSELADA, now you know I wasn’t just talking out of my ass Dib.”
Well the thing is, now that there’s data to support it, it’s a very interesting idea. I agree with Berjuan that they have nothing… inherently…. to do with each other but your reading of their relationship is interesting.
My mind goes immediately to the weight lifter and the boxer kinetoscope presentations of the Edison era. But you know what those physical and visual presentations were overshadowed by?
Dance. Dance isn’t on that list. Not that I’d define it as a sport, but thinking about motion, visual presentation, composition, and choreography, dance far, far attracts more cinematic eye than boxing.
The purest form of cinema ? Bresson.
He is the only director who hasn’t sold out in the french.
And sports can never be uplifted in cinema, for it relies heavily on the concept of underdog.
Rarely do you get to see a sports related cinema which has the underdog factor. Furthermore in sports related cinema you either have to win or lose.
There is no 2nd path. And the protagonist is shown as the moral and righteous battling against odds to win a match.
What this thread is teaching me is that Bresson was the best at instructing people how to understand his films through his writing.
Until we establish criteria for “purity” it’s impossible to say…
Except—wait a minute—the entire notion of some pure, unmarked category of CINEMA AS SUCH is bullshit. So never mind.
Philippe Garrel = purity
@BERJUANBoxing/Drama and film have nothing to do with one another. Its like saying that red is the most colorful color because most paintings use red, or something of that nature.
The most colorful color? What?
There is clearly a relationship between boxing and cinema. Filmmakers have always been drawn to boxing, probably because of its combination of brutality and poetry, grace and savagery. It’s a battle of skill and will, an electrifying spectacle with an often dramatic conclusion.
Does the underdog story limit the sports genre? What are some sports movies that don’t follow the conventional underdog narrative?
“What this thread is teaching me is that Bresson was the best at instructing people how to understand his films through his writing.”
Written before I went to bed. Follow this one up with the following thought experiment:
If notions of purity in cinema are most commonly responsive to Bresson’s writing on the subject, wouldn’t that make his cinema quite unpure?
As in, think about it a moment… his writing justifies his cinema as ‘pure’? If it were ‘purely cinematic’, we wouldn’t use his writing to respond to it at all. N’est pas?
Just playing around with the concept of purity here. It’s an essentialist, metaphysical thing anyway.
Bresson’s films definately aren’t totally pure, but he’s a good contender. He definately tried the most.
He tried to strip acting, photography, painting and music away from film.
But if you look, he still has plenty of “artificial” things: actors fake-crying, well framed shots, use of color, music, strong narratives.
Probably someone like Brakhage really broken down film into its most essential ingredients: movement over time. Kiarostami probably did the same thing in a non-abstract form with stuff like Five for Ozu.
I don’t think purity should be an end game in art, but it’s certainly something to think about when it comes to film, because with so much at one’s disposal, it’s easy to turn your work into a filmed play or rely too much on mood music.
And in that case, you’re taking something which could have been really great and softening it into something that’s “pretty good”.
Films shouldn’t be an agony to sit through but they shouldn’t be lazy or rehashes.
To me, in terms of narrative-driven fictive cinema, Naruse is as pure as cinema gets.
Melodrama is human purity. Naruse made melodrama cinematic purity.
@ John: agreed on pretty much every note.
The is a sentence in Bazin’s What is Cinema that sums up what I feel pure cinema would entail, but I don’t have my book right now. :( I’ll look for that sentence and return soon.
Kubrick was a master of pure cinema. Take all the words out of his films 1968 and on, and you still have a visual puzzle; the language is completely at the service of the imagery and symbolic connections made through the visual compositions, as well as meaning created through camera movement and repetition, fractal continuity, and visual alteration; all his films made after 2001 are literally a “space odyssey”, investingating the potential for meaning in the cinematic space, the visual frame. He was also the master of various kinds of unreliable narration, and partially hidden narratives; and the way to notice the hidden narrative is in the image, not the language, and it constitutes different meanings in different films (2001, Clockwork, The Shining). There is so much information contained in each Kubrick shot, and the meaning intensifies as images are related to each other in various manners, not only across the length of a film, but over the course of his post 2001 fimography; this is why his films are so great to rewatch, as once the hidden narrative is properly detected, each subsequent viewing ought to act as a crystalization of that discovery. His adaptations were about completely changing the texts he was adapting, and transforming them into much more complex and satisfying pieces of art. Kubrick’s genius was his eye for what the viewer wants, and that viewers are people, and that people are diverse; which is why his films are tailor made for the individual to understand. A viewer can easily miss, ignore, or choose not to accept the visual cues offered throughout his films (every shot has at least one or more) and that would lead the viewer to a hugely different conclusion; and this hypothetical viewer would still come out of the film thinking they totally understood the film, and they probably enjoyed it so much they’d watch it again. As a great photographer, and with the deepest eye for an movement and the complexities of an image, Kubrick was a master of pure cinema. The man knew where to put a camera, and he knew how much to use it.
“If you really want to communicate something, even if it’s just an emotion or attitude, let alone an idea, the least effective and least enjoyable way is directly. It only goes in about half an inch. But if you can get people to the point where they have to think a moment what it is your getting at, and then discover it…the thrill of discovery goes right through the heart.”
Kubrick talking to Joseph Heller.
“Take all the words out of his films 1968 and on, and you still have a visual puzzle; the language is completely at the service of the imagery and symbolic connections made through the visual compositions…”
If that was the definition of pure cinema wouldn’t all silent cinema be a better example than Kubrick?
In fact, I can think of dozens of sound films that have essentially zero lines of dialogue. Where all that is in the film is sound in service of imagery.
In terms of the relative “purity” of the relationship between sound and image I’d point to Trinh’s Reassemblage about a dozen times before any Kubrick.
“If that was the definition of pure cinema wouldn’t all silent cinema be a better example than Kubrick?”
Or experimental film. Though to be sure, the canonical experimental filmmakers like Deren, Anger, Brakhage, et al get that credit a lot.
“Or experimental film.”
Which leads us back to Marker.
It isn’t so much the lack of language as it is the meanings in the images. Silent cinema conveys meanings without language, sure, but personally I feel they usually aren’t layered in the images and so full of detail the way Kubrick does it. It isn’t lack of words. Kubrick films have words, many words. It is the meaning and use of the image. I think he is a wonder at creating a diversely detailed images full of meaning. I feel he engages many facets of my “cinema senses”, so to speak.
Though deciding who the purest is entails different guidlines. I guess his films have characters and stories, so it isn’t really pure cinema in the strictest sense. But I feel Kubrick’s work is better off for it, and that he still does do justice to pure cinema.