Studying movie history is one of the easiest ways to improve your craft.
We all can list off our favorite movies, or talk about our inspirations whether that be the art itself or the people who created it. Cinematography can emotionally move us in ways that other mediums cannot. And yet, the decisions behind each shot is still subjective. Give a script to 5 different filmmakers and you're likely to watch 5 different films. Color, framing, lighting all are based on how the story is interpreted, which makes it interesting when you start analyzing the history of movies.
What if certain films didn't make the decisions they did? What if Oklahoma! or Lawrence of Arabia didn't film on 70mm. What if Kubrick didn't make 2001: A Space Odyssey, or the original Star Wars hadn't pushed the boundaries of technology? Would we still be talking about how influential those films are today?
What's been advantageous about living in the modern digital age is that there are multiple viewpoints available at a click of a button. You may not always agree with them, but it's still information you can soak up and use in one form or another. It's the same with movies we watch. They influence us in how we approach our own filmmaking, and as you likely know, it's nearly impossible to watch every movie in history, especially when considering foreign films.
But the filmmaking community continues to grow and so does its free education from creators in the field. The Cinema Cartography has put together an excellent video about their perspective on the cinematography that changed cinema. Check it out below.
As the video points out, it's a celebration of cinema and looks at the different creators behind some influential films. But more importantly than the homage it sets, the video poses a question. If the audience already excepts the reality of what they are watching—and that's people playing roles on a screen—why do they dismiss the more surreal aspects of something already so removed from reality itself.
Filmmakers want to immerse audiences in story. They don't want to take you out of the moment. In modern filmmaking, words like authentic, believable, natural, and organic have been pushed to the forefront, while those filmmakers of the past like Akira Kurosawa looked to artificial cinematography to tell a story. They looked beyond what's seen out our windows.
Are we simply in a different age of filmmaking? One where if the film doesn't echo our reality—even if its superheroes fighting in space—audiences won't buy it. Doubtful. But what do you think are the biggest downfalls of modern Hollywood films? Tell us in the comments below.