Saturday, September 4, 2010

Learning the art of the craft (Bogdanovich)

One of my favorite moviemen, Peter Bogdanovich, adds blogger to his many titles. From the introduction to Blogdanovich:

The state of movie culture—indeed, the state of culture in the U.S.A.—is at a distressingly low level. At film schools all over the country, most of the students act as though picture history begins somewhere around “Raging Bull”. The knowledge of, or interest in, films made during the fifty-year Golden Age of Pictures—1912-1962—is generally either non-existent or extremely spotty.

I was lucky: The late 1950s and most of the 1960s were terrific years for talk and writing about the great picture work that had been made in America, just at the time it all came tumbling down. New York’s prestigious, influential Museum of Modern Art finally did retrospectives on Orson Welles, Howard Hawks, and Alfred Hitchcock in l961-62-63. I arranged them. The directors in my generation—Spielberg, Scorsese, Coppola, almost all of them—had quite a good sense of older pictures. But that doesn’t seem to be the case much of the time now.

Why should it be so important to see the work that has preceded us? Again, I was lucky: My European father was not only a fine painter, he was a vastly knowledgeable expert on the entire history of painting and sculpture; dealers and museum curators would ask him to judge if a work was genuine or fake. He was also a brilliant classical pianist, and knew the whole opus of the great composers. So I picked up at an early age that if you want to be of some quality in your chosen field, you had better have a damn good idea of all the superb or transcendent work that has been done before your advent. Not for the purpose of remakes, but in order to learn the vocabulary, grammar, the humanity, the art of the craft. Bach did precede Mozart.

1 comment:

redeyespy said...

I agree entirely. Mr. Eastwood would certainly acknowledge Wyler, Ford, and Hawks before him.