Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 17, No. 4. March 25, 1953

Another Critic Answers

Another Critic Answers

Dear Mr. Editor,—

I should like to express my satisfaction with your film critic's appreciation of Chaplin's film "Limelight." An enormous amount could be written about this film in which nearly every incident has its particular significance and beauty.

One of Mr. Rich's remarks, however, may be misunderstood. Although it may be "easier to understand 'Limelight' . . . . when it is analysed in its relation to Chaplin's total work." and while it is certainly true that a knowledge of his life and experiences as a film-maker add to "Limelight's" interest, it would be unfortunate to suggest that the film is not self-contained, and fully intelligible in itself. I wonder how many people after seeing and being disappointed with a film which has been highly recommended by critics, rather then ask themselves whether their disappointment arises from some deficiency in their mental or cultural education, have excused themselves with the plea of ignorance of film history, and especially of technical matters, which critics so often make so much of in talking of films, as though place in historical development and photographic science, etc., were at the very foundation of the worth of a film. Many potential supporters of the film art must be frightened off by the average critic's fondness for terms such as panning, track shot, wipe, and fade. Similarly it is a mistake to say that adequate enjoyment of a film depends on knowledge of the director's past work, of the development of camera movement., or of experiments in editing, equally, that a film is great because it marks a considerable advance in some technical aspect of film-making. How [unclear: wise] to account for the reputation, for example, of "The Last Laugh"? All this is particularly relevant to "Limelight," for though Chaplin uses the camera, soundtracks, his aesthetic sense, and most of all, the scissors, with superb effect, they are not used for their own sake, merely to be arty, but as aids to saying what the artist wants to say. Chaplin gives his tools their due importance, but his interpretation of life and human nature is the core of his work.

In the latest issue of "Sight and Sound" a splendid informed appreciation of "Limelight" by Gavin Lambert appears. The magazine Itself plumps for "Limelight" as the film of the year. So it seems that "Limelight" will not be everywhere "misunderstood and underrated." Yet it is true that many people who look down on the cinema will miss the opportunity of seeing a film which could alter their views about "the seventh art." Among them will be some of the cultural leaders of the community. The motion picture needs wider acceptance among such people whose opinions have some influence. They will be attracted to the cinema and persuaded to see the few good films that come to Wellington each year, most successfully by stressing that the best the cinema has to offer is as is the best of all art concerned with the great realities and problems of life.

What follows is addressed to those diehards who persist in viewing the cinema with suspicion and disfavour, if you walk into the Public Library and pick up a book of which both the name and author are unknown, your chances of having a great book, even a good book in your hand are very remote. Yet that is what many of you persist in doing in your choice of films. You go to a film knowing nothing of the director, script-writer or theme—and you come out of the theatre saying what a dull, childish, trivial, mercenary thing the motion picture is. You pass by films like "Bicycle Thieves," "The Long Voyage Homo" and—"Limelight." You don't know what pleasure you are missing. But you have your chance. Mr. Rich can be relied on, not to miss anything important. You do not have to share his views; merely go and see and form your own opinions about the films he marks with ***** and even *****(*) (except "The Sound Barrier"). You may make an exciting discovery.

R. J. Edwards.