Western painting shares many similarities with narrative film. A frame is set to capture reality and what lies beneath, that is the state of mind and the consciousness. It is no accident that we sometimes call movies “pictures”. The rectangular frame is a window to the world and its unlimited transformations.
Paintings and films also share a common concern on lights and shadows. Cavemen already knew how to use shadows in their paintings, before they had the notion of a frame. The concepts of portraiture, projection, mirror image and illusion were already in place. These concepts are not so far from us, as movies inherit them, and embody them by the illusion of moving pictures. You may know that the Chinese term for movies literally means “electric shadows”. This term makes a perfect complement to “motion pictures” as the medium of film also puts every facet of shadows into motion.
Don’t ever believe the cynical view that ‘movies are dead’. As the medium of popular art and subculture, movies are as vibrant as ever. Films share common ground with painting. Therefore, movies could be viewed as a component of the history of art. Although movies have a relatively short history, we are grateful that they are a counterpart and relative of Western painting with a longer history.
The theme of the fifth “Critics’ Choice” is “The Painting of Film”. Of the six films in the series, Edvard Munch is a biopic of the painter; Ordet takes the paintings of Hammershøi as visual reference; The Quince Tree Sun documents a painting in progress; in The River, the tranquillity of paintings is expanded to the big screen. We will also see the works of directors who received training as painters before finding their vocation; with blazing colours, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover comments on Thatcher’s Britain; Eraserhead depicts human consciousness in claustrophobic black and white. By bringing film and painting together, we hope that you will never look at a picture, or motion pictures the same way again.
Hong Kong Film Critics Society
Project Curator: Chang Wai-hung
The contents of the programme do not represent the views of the presenter.
The presenter reserves the right to change the programme should unavoidable circumstances make it necessary.