Monday, January 07, 2008

Thoughts on Being Inspired

In all my recent posting on Sweeney Todd, I got to thinking about something I mentioned not too long ago, about how wonderful it is to be exhilarated by a movie again (having not felt that way for so long).

That exhilarated feeling is why I started making movies. But today, I was thinking about how making a great movie doesn't give you the same inspired, exhilarated feeling that seeing a great movie gives you.

It just can't. You can't make art in a vacuum. You need other artists to inspire you. And, of course, I can hope to make a movie that is good enough to inspire someone else. But the feeling one gets from the actual making of the film simply isn't the same as the inspiration one derives from seeing great art.

There is a feeling of accomplishment, to be sure, but it's more of an ambiguous sense of maybe having done something well (even if you're never exactly certain of that fact). The experience of the film as art eludes the maker, I think. Or, at least, it always has eluded me with regard to my own films.

I suppose, after many years, when the details of a film have been more or less forgotten by the filmmaker, he or she could have an experience of it as a work of art. But even then, I'm not sure it's possible, because while details might have been forgotten, the experience of rewatching the film would immediately call to mind the experience of making it.

And that's the gist of the problem, I imagine -- a filmmaker cannot separate the experience of the film from the making of it.

So I'm left with a realization that should have been obvious: even if I can make great art (and I'm not saying that I can or have), I can never experience my own work as great art. That strikes me as... not sad, but perhaps disappointing.

Just some random thoughts.


Blogger Jonathan said...

Very interesting thoughts, Chris.

It might have something to do with the amound of time, and the toll it takes. You can watch a great movie in two or three hours. But it can take maybe three years of one's life to write, produce, edit, and promote a great movie. Not to mention all the unpleasantness behind the scenes that cannot be erased from the memories of those involved in making it but is obviously no where to be seen by those who only see the best footage edited together in final form.

But for God sake, don't let that stop you from making your great art. The number of people who enjoy and are inspired by watching a great movie far outweighs the number of people who had severe trials making it.

1/08/2008 8:22 AM  
Blogger Chris Hansen said...

I think you're right about the time. It takes a long time to make something that takes a moment to experience. Even in a two-hour movie, I think we experience great art in "moments" -- smaller, discreet chunks. Of course, those things have to contribute to an impressive whole, but I think we remember and experience the moments...

And no worries -- I'm not going to stop making them, because I think I will always want to create great art that I can in turn experience as great art. That may be something that is impossible to do, but it's something to strive for.

1/09/2008 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great art is work for the artist. re-read Tennyson's "The Lady of Shallott" as a poem about the artist (lady) and art (her journey out of the tower). It takes her a great deal of effort, she dies, and then Lancelot comes along and says, "Oh, she has a lovely face." Painful--but probably true. Art chnages things over time--and artists are usually gone by the time things have changed (Picasso is an exception). Anyhoo...

1/15/2008 10:19 AM  
Blogger Chris Hansen said...

I like the analogy ("she has a lovely face"). Well, I don't like it, LOL, but I like how truthful it is. In the end, something so complex is always reduced to something simple.

1/15/2008 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Contra Keats, it may not be beautiful, but it's the truth.

1/16/2008 8:48 AM  

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