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Cinematic revolutions: the ideas that drove movies

by Mark Cousins.

There’s a great moment in Carol Reed’s Odd Man Out: James Mason spills a drink, looks into its bubbles, and sees his troubles in them. Twenty years later, Jean-Luc Godard, who admired Reed, had a similar scene in his movie Two or Three Things I Know About Her. Ten years after that, Martin Scorsese had Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver stare into the bubbles of a drink. Scorsese is a fan of Reed and Godard. To watch such a visual idea pass from film-maker to film-maker is to look into the DNA of the movies.

Cinema has been the autobiography of our times, glammed up like biographies often are. But the hoopla about its box office, the pay packets of movie stars and the production costs of blockbusters tell us little about how the medium lives and breathes. Its fuel is filmic ideas, like a guy looking into the bubbles of a drink.

David Lynch agrees. He thinks getting ideas is like fishing. Federico Felllini used to say he was a radio trying to tune into a signal. John Sayles says getting an idea is like getting the flu – you feel sick, you can’t shake it off. For the last six years I’ve been travelling the world, making a 15-hour documentary about ideas in the movies. Thousands of miles and hours later, and after having talked to great film-makers and visited key movie studios and film schools, I’m more sure than ever that Lynch’s fishing, Fellini’s tuning, Sayles’s fever are the motor of the movies.

Read the rest of this article from The Guardian.

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