Is cinema a lie?

March 15, 2021

In our first episode we’ve established our love for cinema in all its facets and intricacies, of which there are so many that it prompted this quote from Jean Luc-Godard.
He said: “Film is truth twenty-four times a second, and every cut is a lie.” The Austrian auteur Michael Haneke boiled this statement down to its natural conclusion: “films is 24 lies per second.”

So, loving film is akin to loving the lie…

If you explore that idea even a bit further it plunges you down a rabbit hole about the way we perceive film, reality and ourselves. It makes you think about the way the media we consume have shaped our perspectives on politics, ideology, representation and practically life itself. It forces you to pause and think about what you consider to be real. Aren’t we all just living the stories made up by the selective perception of our minds? In times ` fake news, deep fakes and rampant conspiracy theories these questions remain eerily relevant.

I’m reminded by this fascinating story widely shared after the release of James Cameron’s 2009 3D blockbuster Avatar that beautifully rendered the new age CGI world of Pandora on which majestic creatures called Na’vi live in close relation with the flora and fauna of their surroundings. People were so in awe of this fantastical and alien place, in the film obviously invaded by colonizing humans, that they experienced an actual bout of depression after leaving the cinema. They thought: why can’t our world be like that of the Na’Vi?

In our current lockdowned state I think we all have a bit of the Pandora Blues. I don’t know about you, but I get deep aches whenever I see groups of people coming together in films, or when people shake hands or hug or dance in a club. I want to live in that world, not my world…“We’re all mad as hell now and we won’t take this anymore”…

In the previous episode Tom aptly described our need to escape our reality wholesale. And yet it’s also important to realize what happens when we get enticed to do so. LAB111 has been working on a film program that shows the many dangers and challenges of trying to escape our own reality. We hope the program will screen soon. From the puzzle narratives of spectacular sci-fi films like ExistenZ and Inception to the ideological paranoia of Total Recall and They Live. These films take you down the rabbit hole and show you that sure, you can escape the surroundings of your reality, but can you ever escape yourself and the structures you grew up in?

For this episode we’ve watched a film that touches upon all of these themes, and also handily reflects on our current stay-at-home bubble state. It’s a film that also anticipated the wildly mediated state in which we’re all actors now of our own social media accounts. I’m talking of course about Peter Weir’s 1998 Jim Carrey starring The Truman Show, a marvel of American film making because it’s simultaneously deeply moving and extremely funny, but also eerily poignant and perhaps even prophetic,

The Truman Show stars Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, a man whose entire life has without his consent been broadcasted on television as a continuous soap series. His life has been perfectly comfortable: he has a desk job, a caring wife, a good friend and then so more, but nonetheless he feels that something doesn’t adds up when he starts to question his surroundings.  

Using Truman’s quest of self-fulfillment as a departure point, this episode will deal with the opaque relationship between fiction and real life, about the way films have shaped our perception of the world and the way we allow stories to fuck with our mind.

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