Sad mimes defeat
What about “Dogville” ? There is no set! It is like theatre where props were stolen, yet it is so character driven that it works. At the start of it, you wonder, who nicked them houses and what not, then the story pulls you in–Nicole always helps to focus. Suspension of disbelief gets jacked up something fierce, and that, is what storytelling is about.
Funnily enough, the guy who invented this - for the theatre - would hate that. Bertolt Brecht, who was very much Trier’s influence for Dogville, actually wanted to use those effects to distance the audience from the characters.
That’s very zen or ninja of him. You want your audience to become the characters, to see through their eyes. This enables suspension of disbelief. What effect would distance the audience have? Enhancement of disbelief? Conspiracy theory generation?
I think, that that resource of mini minimalistic architecture and décor, actually makes you closer to the character. There are literally no background distractions, you need fiercer suspension of disbelief, and with Dogville, for me, it happened.
suspension of disbelief, suspension of disbelief, cant stop saying it, suspension of…
The latter is pretty close. With his plays, Brecht’s aim was for the audience to remain uninvolved so they would be able to judge the characters behaviour - not forgive them, out of sympathy, for whatever they did, but rather be able to cooly pronounce moral judgement. Where Aristoteles saw the cleansing from emotions by engaging them, catharsis, as the point of plays, Brecht wanted a moral instead of an emotional effect on the audience; he wanted to show a world in which his characters did terrible things, in which they failed morally, and he didn’t want the audience to accept these things and this behaviour but rather reflect on them and decide that the world had to be different, that they had to change the way things were [Brecht was a Marxist, and you can see the anti-capitalist influence very much in Trier’s Brechtian movies, as well]. All of this, so Brecht argued, could only be achieved if the audience did not suspend their disbelief, preventing identification with the characters and an awareness that they were watching a play.
Brecht called this “epic theatre”, and his most important tool was the “Verfremdungseffekt”, an alienation of the audience from the play that he would achieve by deliberately breaking the illusion.
Whether Brecht actually achieved his aims or not can be argued about - obviously, von Trier didn’t manage to achieve this effect, at least where you are concerned (but I am inclined to agree) - but the techniques of the “Verfremdungseffekt” had a lasting effect on the way plays were staged in the theatre.
then the story must be so morally involved. I think of this type of Theatre as an approach that could allow Democracy to improve, by letting all see beyond the bread and circus show that rules in so many places.
Then this plays must have been action intensive, with a fables nature of indoctrination, or perhaps with just the effect of developing critical thinking instead of the sweet numbness of fantasy.
Thanks for that, Christian. Mark Kermode talks about ‘Brechtian Alienation Devices’ in his film review show, so it’s nice that I can now follow along.
Yeah, that’s exactly it. I think you can see these ideas at work in Dogville, as well - it is a story in which the characters - and the whole society they have built - all fail on the moral level, and we as an audience are invited to condemn them for it.
By the way, Brecht’s most successful plays were probably the operas he made with Kurt Weill. The Threepanny Opera’s “Mack the Knife” is a song we probably all know.
Most people don’t realise that the context of that song is a play that is a scathing critique of capitalist society that includes the lines “What’s picking a lock compared to buying shares? What’s breaking into a bank compared to founding one? What’s murdering a man compared to employing one?”
I wasn’t sure where best to put this news:
That is sad news. I’ve been reading Rolling Stone since the late 70s, been a subscriber for almost that long, and Jan Wenner’s direction has been one of the main reasons I’ve stayed with the magazine so long. Their political and social news coverage is even more compelling and insightful today than their media coverage, and I would sincerely hate to see that disappear.
The lack of revenue for good material is a concern. I think while things can move on to the web the business model there is increasingly a need to have to use clickbait accessed via social media.
I’d like to condemn CBR for example for their ‘15 things something about sex or boobs’ articles that appear every day but I don’t think anyone there really wants to write them, I don’t think they have any choice.