Posted June 9th, 2014 by Ben

I remember an edition of BBC Radio 4’s “The Food Programme” based around the idea that cutlery, indeed all the other various accoutrements of dining play an essential role in the experience of eating. They mentioned various studies about the way forks of different materials, silver, wood, steel, plastic, affected the taste of food and discussed a Japanese drinks company attempting to create drinks cans that, on opening, released different scents to alter your enjoyment of the drink. In each case the key thing was the effect wasn’t simply chemical but psychological.

This instantly reminded me of why I’d enjoyed watching Gravity in 3D. Apologies for the spoilers but Gravity is a film mainly set inside Sandra Bullock’s space suit. The film’s aesthetic is claustrophobic and in vitro. For once watching a movie through a pair of goggles was actually an enhancement to my enjoyment of the story.


I mention this because it occurs to me that my blog about how a film is experienced much more diversely than a series of pictures might be read as being in favour of a lack of care. If the act of story telling that we engage with takes place on a canvas so much larger than a cinema screen and so much longer than 120 minutes, if the film as it is remembered or felt or advertised or imagined or discussed is so much more powerful than the one actually screened then what value that cut? What difference does it make?

The answer, of course, is everything. As any editor will tell you, every change has implications. As subtle as a wooden fork instead of a plastic one or watching a claustrophobic film behind glass, every detail from the edit outwards creates the effect of the film. To say that what the audience watch is as much about the way your story is presented as the story itself is not to say that therefore the story doesn’t matter. Though it is interesting that so many of my examples are blockbusters, those hugely popular and entirely empty event-movies seem to provide the perfect example of how the elements of a film other than the theme and story can be used to engage an audience.

I’m trying not to put value judgements on any of this, simply to see for myself with greater clarity what I’m doing when I watch a film to help me as I make one. The more I think this through the more I see that the range of cutlery used when presenting a film is far more diverse than a screen and a projector. To ignore this is to make your audience eat from paper plates.

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