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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 7. 1962.

Some Light on the Shadows?

Some Light on the Shadows?

Dear Sir,—The review of the film "Shadows" in your last issue contained some statements which are in need of further discussion.

Your critic found that the Aim's "biggest disadvantage" was the "total boringness" of the lives of the characters. I agree that their lives were boring to the extent that they seemed to be aimless and somewhat futile, but I do not agree that because of this their lives were uninteresting. To say, as your critic did, that the life of the common man is not interesting to others unless it is altered, in its description, by artistic manipulation, is to make far too general a statement. It also reflects an underestimation of other people.

That the camera work had shortcomings in technical manipulation is agreed; but I can't see that "artistic manipulation" of the camera would have improved this film. The "lack of artistry" (but it wasn't always lacking) in much of the camera work was entirely in harmony with the subject of the film, i.e., ordinary people and the lives they visibly lead.

The spontaneity in the film also seems to have disturbed your critic. I suspect that he felt the absence that "artistic manipulation" of the script which is carried out in most films, even those which try to deal convincingly with non-extraordinary contemporary life. To me, the spontaneity of the dialogue was the element which made the film convincing. In many respects—I have not said all—one's life is spontaneous, lacks preparation. One is often not prepared for what happens. Because of this one may have no immediate insight into the motives for someone else's behaviour. The majority of the films I have seen and that have a contemporary setting fail to portray this. Instead the characters seem to be able to cope verbally with every situation, rarely does the script show them struggling to express a thought, and motives for actions or statements are either strongly hinted at or else blatantly pronounced. This manipulation of the script saturates such a film with artificiality, but it is just one of the insidious means of "glamorising" film characters that your critic seems to find necessary.

In many instances, motives for people's behaviour in real life are not clear until some thought has been given to the matter. Why then did your critic expect to have the motives of the characters in "Shadows" (a film dealing with real life) presented to him, each with its own neat label?

If, to have been impressed by "Shadows" means to be classified by your critic as one of the weird elements of the university population, I shall have to accept it. I think he should give the film more thought; however, since he has related weirdness to being pleased by the film I shall not be surprised if he is reluctant to do this. Yours, etc.,

Peter S. Brooke.