Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

..and why not?
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Davey the Fat Boy
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Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 19 Jan 2018, 21:44

Sneelock posted an interesting article about The Conversation in which Coppola talked a bit about some of his intentions in making The Conversation. One thing you get pretty clearly from him is the sense that he didn’t feel that his protagonist was all that fleshed out.

The experience of watching it is completely different. The unknowablity of Harry Caul just makes him a deeper mystery. It’s easy to project all sorts of history onto him.

This made me think of an old debate Matt Wilson and I had over Taxi Driver. I brought up the possible interpretation that Travis might actually die at the end of the film. Matt set about to prove I was wrong by seeking out interviews with Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader where they specifically addressed that theory. He was completely apoplectic when I responded by saying that I didn’t actually care about their interpretation anymore. That once they let the film go, it belongs to our own imaginations.

I suppose the same could be held for song lyrics, books, paintings and any other work of art. The audience brings themselves to the work.

Or do they? Am I wrong?

How important is it to you to “get” the authors intent when you watch a film? Do you feel a need and/or responsibility to yield to their vision?
Last edited by Davey the Fat Boy on 19 Jan 2018, 22:10, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Sneelock » 19 Jan 2018, 21:54

When you put something out in the world - it becomes it’s own thing. I think the richness of the arts lies in seeing something of ourselves in it’s reflection. The artist might know what their intention was but there’s no way to know how it’s going to land on somebody.
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Quaco » 19 Jan 2018, 21:55

It's important up to a point, but generally, once I settle into an interpretation that inspires me, that is better than knowing the real meaning. It becomes more important or inspiring to me. Same in music: there are a lot of cases where it's helpful to know basically what the writer is talking about, but I sometimes prefer my own interpretation.
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby LeBaron » 19 Jan 2018, 22:06

Davey the Fat Boy wrote:How important is it to you to “get” the authors intent when you watch a film? Do you feel a need responsibility to yield to their vision?


It isn’t the slightest bit important, and I can’t really imagine why an “artist” would even get into that in public. I would be interested in it only as a footnote.
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 19 Jan 2018, 22:10

What was interesting about the article Snee posted was that it seemed like Coppola was counting on people filling in the blanks on who Caul was.

I think a lot of good art comes when the artist themselves doesn’t know too much about what they are creating.
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Eddie Shah environment » 19 Jan 2018, 22:22

"well OBVIOUSLY Hitch didn't DELIBERATELY use shitty background shots, dumbass! he wanted to induce a feeling of disorientation in the viewer"
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby toomanyhatz » 19 Jan 2018, 22:25

You are not wrong. Wilson is pedantic. :lol:

I also think sometimes artists (of all kinds, not just filmmakers) either a) are purposely leaving some stuff open to interpretation or b) dealing from raw emotion or instinct and don't necessarily know themselves where specifically the inspiration is coming from.

Indeed, once it's out in the world, the intentions don't matter as much as the reception. I feel that way about my own creations as well, as do most songwriters I know.
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Quaco » 19 Jan 2018, 22:32

Very Stable Baron wrote:
Davey the Fat Boy wrote:How important is it to you to “get” the authors intent when you watch a film? Do you feel a need responsibility to yield to their vision?


It isn’t the slightest bit important, and I can’t really imagine why an “artist” would even get into that in public. I would be interested in it only as a footnote.

Often they are asked, right?
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Charlie O. » 19 Jan 2018, 22:38

Yeah, I'm with the consensus thus far. Sometimes knowing what inspired a certain song, or what the filmmaker was going for, deepens my appreciation of it a little, but... usually not so much.
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Eddie Shah environment » 19 Jan 2018, 22:39

Quaco wrote:
Very Stable Baron wrote:
Davey the Fat Boy wrote:How important is it to you to “get” the authors intent when you watch a film? Do you feel a need responsibility to yield to their vision?


It isn’t the slightest bit important, and I can’t really imagine why an “artist” would even get into that in public. I would be interested in it only as a footnote.

Often they are asked, right?


Yeah, it's one of the things I've noticed in those live Q&A sessions, where you get the director and interviewer with an audience.

I suppose the best (whatever the word means in this context) directors are happy to sort of hand over the film to the public's imagination when it's completed - but many don't welcome that idea. Ego?
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Charlie O. » 19 Jan 2018, 22:41

OCT wrote:I suppose the best (whatever the word means in this context) directors are happy to sort of hand over the film to the public's imagination when it's completed - but many don't welcome that idea. Ego?

I think it's not unusual (or unnatural) for an artist to have something in particular that they were trying to communicate, and to be disappointed when people don't "get it."
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 19 Jan 2018, 22:45

To their credit, a lot of artists are tight-lipped around interpretations of their work. But some aren’t, and it can actually be a letdown to hear their intentions and find out that they weren’t as interesting as you’d hoped.

The above said - I’m always very interested in the authors intention when I don’t know it. Less so after I do.
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Eddie Shah environment » 19 Jan 2018, 22:50

Can you remember ever being surprised by the filmmaker's intention because it was so different from what you'd expected?
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Quaco » 19 Jan 2018, 22:51

Davey the Fat Boy wrote:To their credit, a lot of artists are tight-lipped around interpretations of their work. But some aren’t, and it can actually be a letdown to hear their intentions and find out that they weren’t as interesting as you’d hoped.

The above said - I’m always very interested in the authors intention when I don’t know it. Less so after I do.

Yes, that's the thing. I'm annoyed when an artist refuses to say anything about meaning or their art's origins because "it's all open to the viewer's interpretation", but sometimes their interpretation does disappoint.
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Quaco » 19 Jan 2018, 22:52

OCT wrote:Can you remember ever being surprised by the filmmaker's intention because it was so different from what you'd expected?

It's more common that I can learn something about the inspiration -- that long scene was inspired by so-and-so and I hadn't even noticed it was a long uncut scene, that sort of thing.
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 19 Jan 2018, 22:58

OCT wrote:Can you remember ever being surprised by the filmmaker's intention because it was so different from what you'd expected?


I’ve definitely gotten a few films all wrong, then had someone completely open it up for me. That happens fairly often actually- but I’m not sure if it’s ever been the artist themselves who made me see it differently.

I think that it’s often more satisfying when a person who didn’t create the thing offers a new perspective on it.
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Sneelock » 19 Jan 2018, 23:03

I’m a big fan of “Blade Runner” and often admire Ridley Scott. I do NOT think Ridley Scott has the slightest idea what makes “Blade Runner” great.
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Charlie O. » 19 Jan 2018, 23:08

One of my favorite movies is Head. Listening to Micky, Mike, Peter and Davy talk about it (they aren't the writers or directors, granted, but... it's mainly about them) is very much like listening to the proverbial blind men comparing notes on the proverbial elephant.
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 19 Jan 2018, 23:19

What IS “Head” about?
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Re: Does it matter how the filmmaker interprets their work?

Postby Charlie O. » 19 Jan 2018, 23:21

About 86 minutes.
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