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Defining 'masterpiece' (2 replies and 1 comment)

B
6 months ago
B 6 months ago

Hi Roger -

Wondering how you define what a 'masterpiece' is for yourself. I've really struggled to pull together a strong definition of this word and often wonder about it. The only real definition I have is that I can call a film a masterpiece only when I feel comfortable using that word without caveat. That's a very high bar, there are few films that fit that description for me. So wondering how you grapple with this word and concept. How do you know when you have seen a masterpiece? Is your definition similar to mine?

Roger Deakins
6 months ago
Roger Deakins 6 months ago

For me there are very few 'masterpieces', whether you are talking about a film, a book, a painting, a poem, a still photograph, whatever.

'Ivan's Childhood' is a masterpiece. 'Army of Shadows' is a masterpiece. 'Solaris' is a masterpiece. 'Dr Strangelove' is a masterpiece. '2001' is 'only' a great film. That's where I would draw my distinction. A 'masterpiece' works on every possible level. Of course, its just my interpretation and really has no meaning outside of my personal perspective. Each to their own.

 

rlandry1
6 months ago

Subjective opinion is always the determining factor. I've always considered Ridley Scott's "Legend" to be a masterpiece of the fantasy genre, but a lot of people hate it. My best friend won't even watch it, because he saw some crappy clip of it on YouTube. It's very sad. But yes, I think that you can subcategorize "masterpieces" based on genre as well. Like what would a masterpiece in the horror genre be? Film noir?

B
3 months ago
B 3 months ago

Could I ask Roger where or how '2001' falls short of a 'masterpiece' for you?

And with regard to 'Strangelove', I know that is a very special film for you. What specifically about this film speaks to you strongly enough to make it one of your favorites?

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