Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I want to show you something amazing. Taken at face value, the occurrence is rather ordinary, but to the thoughtful observer it is something remarkably telling.

The weekend before Thanksgiving I went to see International Cinema's presentation of Amélie. I didn't know much about it, but it looked fun, and I wasn't doing anything else. I've been to several other movies at the IC. The usual crowd for an IC movie consists of a handful of people dispersed by asocial diffusion to chairs with a two-seat buffer in between.

But for Amélie it was different. A line had formed outside of the theatre thirty minutes before showtime. And when they let us in to be seated... every single seat was filled -- even the broken one in my row. (By broken, I really mean absent: "lacking that upon which to sit." The girl just sat on the floor with her back against the seat's back). And when all the seats were taken, a mass of people sat on the floor in front of the screen with two lines of standing people leaning against each wall.

And then we watched the movie. It was very good. It was colorful. It was funny. I left thinking, "that was a really great movie... no wonder so many people came to see it." That thought was followed by, "wait... why would people mob to see it instead of just renting it?" My observant head then observed, "probably because it was edited."

Sure enough, the MPAA said "R, R for sexual content." You've got to be kidding me?! That movie was rated R? The version I saw had no holes in the plot... there were no sudden jumps in scenes... it all flowed together to create a wonderful artistic piece -- it was delightful!

I want to show you something amazing; and the you to which I refer are the people who make movies. A throng of college kids waited in line, sat on the floor, and stood against a wall to watch this movie -- edited. This was their chance to see the movie. They can't rent it, because the superfluous smut they would have to endure is not worth it -- in fact, it ruins the movie!

Take note: we don't want the salacious slime you sneak into otherwise great movies. We're tired of saying: "It's a great movie except..." When you include graphic portrayals of sex or violence: nothing is gained; everything is lost.

It's not amazing that people want to see a movie - it's rather commonplace. What's extraordinary are the lengths to which people will go to see a clean movie - in the face of Hollywood's trend.

Here's to more filmmakers that get it!


Dan Kim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan Kim said...

Well, this will make you really mad then: some film makers have expressed desire to sue BYU-IC for editing their films for content (I'm looking at you Mr. Spielberg) - they claim that it compromises their artistic creation, or something like that. I mean, I see their point. If I ever wrote a book, and someone made an "edited version" of it, for profit or not, intentionally leaving out somethings which I consider to be crucial to the book, then I wouldn't be too happy about it. But your point is a good one Matt. My question is, and please excuse my economist view of the world, if there is a clear demand for edited films, why not take advantage of a potential market - sell two versions of the movie? Besides, I don't see film makers complaining when they are collecting royalty checks from their movies aired on television, even though they are by necessity, edited.

Matt said...

He's really thinking about it? sheesh...

I see your point; if I wrote a book or made a movie, I would be miffed if someone took something out. Hmm... that makes me wonder... If someone removed something and told me that they removed the thing because they thought it was bad (whether dirty or dumb or whatever), then I could probably take it personally -- as though they are saying I'm dirty or dumb. I wonder if that's what's going on.

But if their motive is purely economic, I don't see why they'd complain about more distribution either.

Hmm... sticky dilemma.