What Does the Term Cinematic Really Mean? (4 replies)
On your most recent episode of the podcast you mention to Jason Hall that you don't like the word "cinematic." I know this is a word that gets tossed around a lot. with no universally agreed upon definition of its meaning. I would love to hear your thoughts on that word, why it doesn't work for you, and why you think it's so frequently used by filmmakers.
The films I love are all so different so I can say I love 'cinema'. But what makes a film 'cinematic'? There are so many ways of telling a story or creating emotion through a combination of sound and picture that it seems to defy that kind of simple definition.
I think the "cinematic" term has its roots from the Golden Age of Hollywood and generally means larger-than-life vistas and melodrama. Think of news stories where a bystander exclaims "It's just like the movies!" when describing an accident he'd witnessed.
Of course, cinema is more than just spectacles; it can be a quiet intimate drama devoid of any artifices. The 2010 Best Foreign Oscar winner "The Secret in Their Eyes' has a show-stopping tracking shot and it certainly is impressive but what stays with me is the longing and heartache conveyed in the goodbye train sequence. In the DVD commentary, the director revealed that scene was the most difficult to shoot because he wanted to get the right tone; he was afraid how easily the scene can turn out sappy.
A famous French chef once told his students: "The simplest dish is the hardest to master!"
The trouble with the term is that it is mainly used to beat-up on movies, stories, techniques, etc. that are deemed "un-cinematic".
For me, 'The Secret in Their Eyes' is one of the most moving and engrossing films I have ever seen. Quite brilliant. Cinematic or not I wish there were more like it instead of ......