Over a week ago Meredith and I went to the TCM presents one day showing of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. Even though we knew what was going to happen, the big screen experience was retrospectively novel. Novel because I still got nervous. I noticed that it was the total package of sound and visuals that cued my anxiety. Plus, all of those birds on the monkey bars were certainly more menacing on the big screen. Retrospectively, I was refreshed by movies as they used to be--a conscientiously constructed film that could not rely on computer generated explosions to fill most of the time. I was, however, worried beforehand that clumsy special effects of the pre-computer era would now seem so unrealistic that it would be distracting. It was not the case. Even though the blood obviously came from a bottle, it was only one part of an experience that was well-orchestrated on many other levels.
That brings me to all of the movies that I did not write about this summer. (Now that the DVDs are coming out, maybe I'll give them a short mention.) I was not impressed. For the most part, they were 30-minute storylines sent off to the computer graphics shop with instructions to stretch it into a full-length film. Watching fantastically over-the-top explosions and violence over and over in film after film has a de-humanizing affect. The worst was Snow White and the Huntsman. It was unduly menacing and sinister; the twist on the kiss was frustrating and unproductive (a bad attempt to be innovative and modern); and in the end we are left with a stern, Joan-of-Arc wanna be heroine with no happily ever after.
Interestingly, the best movie of the summer was the other Snow White movie, Mirror, Mirror. Like The Birds, it effectively used all of the movie making tools to create an experience and tell a story. Special effects were expertly used as part of the package--it was really fun to watch the aging and magic in the story, but it never became the reason for the story. Evil wasn't sugarcoated, innocence was preserved, and modern innovations were unexpected and delightful. This twist on the kiss was full of anticipation and humor. In the end, we get a Bollywood happily ever after that is a perfectly unexpected fairy tale ending. I'd like to see this one again.