Jul 11, 2011

Monday's Words of Wisdom

"What afflicts the movies is not an unpalatable ideational content so much as an idiotic and irritating technic. The first moving-pictures... presented more or less continuous scenes... But the modern movie is no such organic whole; it is simply a maddening chaos of discrete fragments. The average scene, if the two shows I attempted were typical, cannot run for more than six or seven seconds. Many are far shorter, and very few are appreciably longer. The result is confusion horribly confounded. How can one work up any rational interest in a fable that changes its locale and its characters ten times a minute? Worse, this dizzying jumping about is plainly unnecessary: all it shows is the professional incompetence of the gilded pants-pressers, decayed actors and other such half-wits to whom the making of movies seems to be entrusted. Unable to imagine a sequence of coherent scenes, and unprovided with a sufficiency of performers capable of playing them if they were imagined, these preposterous mountebanks are reduced to the childish device of avoiding action altogether. Instead of it they present what is at bottom nothing but a poorly articulated series of meaningless postures and grimaces... These mummers cannot be said, in any true sense, to act at all. They merely strike attitudes -- and then are whisked off. If, at the first attempt upon a scene, the right attitude is not struck, then all they have to do is keep on trying until they strike it. On those terms a chimpanzee could play Hamlet, or even Juliet."

- H.L. Mencken (1927)

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