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Avant Garde/Experimental Film Influences?


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I am interest[ed] in how avant garde/experimental filmmaking has influenced or found its way into commercial films and/or filmmakers.

Does anyone have examples of such influences? (camera techniques, editing techniques, narrative structure form, etc) Something that displays a direct influence.

Edited by Thom(asher)

...the kind of film criticism we do. We are talking about life, and more than that the possibility of abundant life." -M.Leary

"Dad, how does she move in mysterious ways?"" -- Jude (my 5-year-old, after listening to Mysterious Ways)

[once upon a time known here as asher]

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I am interesting in how avant garde/experimental filmmaking has influenced or found its way into commercial films and/or filmmakers.

Does anyone have examples of such influences? (camera techniques, editing techniques, narrative structure form, etc) Something that displays a direct influence.

This is rather weak, but would you think the ending of "Pieces of April" was influenced by "La Jetee"? And would "Last Year at Marienbad" have influenced Tim Burton or David Lynch?

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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I really enjoyed the incorporation of some fairly abstract stuff in Batman Begins. I can't think of any direct influences off-hand, but the scenes of little Batman in the well could certainly have some specific A/G analogy. How mainstream are we talking here? Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry both seemed to emerge from the music video world with these neat little tricks up their sleeves, producing some rather A/G/ commercial cinema. One of the most riveting moments I had in 2005 was the finale of a Tony Gatlif film that seemed ripped straight from a late Maya Deren (one of those in which everyone is dancing about). Completely unexpected, but it worked perfectly. That jogs my mind as well to Lost in Translation, which at times evinces the sense of privacy in Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon.

This is a great question Thom, I am going to have to do some film journal scouring on this one.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

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Twelve Monkeys is actually based on La Jetee. They might make for an interesting double-bill.

We are part of the generation in which the image has triumphed over the word, when the visual is dominant over the verbal and where entertainment drowns out exposition. We may go so far as to claim that we live in an age of the image which is also the age of anti-word and potentially is the age of the lie. ~ Os Guiness

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17)

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The Invisible Man wrote:

: Twelve Monkeys is actually based on La Jetee. They might make for an interesting double-bill.

When Twelve Monkeys came out -- gosh, has it been 12 years already? -- the local Cinematheque put on a TRIPLE-bill of Chris Marker's La Jet

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 5 months later...
Twelve Monkeys is actually based on La Jetee. They might make for an interesting double-bill.

That influence is more tied to the storyline than an influence in technique. Would you agree?

...the kind of film criticism we do. We are talking about life, and more than that the possibility of abundant life." -M.Leary

"Dad, how does she move in mysterious ways?"" -- Jude (my 5-year-old, after listening to Mysterious Ways)

[once upon a time known here as asher]

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I wouldn't know if there was an influence there or not, but there always seems to be an experimental film moment--out of place from the usual context--in a Danny Boyle movie (of what I've seen). _The Beach_ had an interesting camera-overlap shot with Leo DiCaprio, _Millions_ had an interesting robot pov shot, and in _28 Days Later_ there's a moment where the flowers look like a Van Gogh painting.

I've not noticed any _Last Year at Marienbad_ references in any movie, except perhaps films which throw timelines out the window (as if that was the only storytelling derivation that film introduced).

Can one reference music videos? I seem to recall the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Otherside" being very heavily influenced by German Expressionistic Silents and the drawings of Escher.

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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The title sequences to Se7en and Suicide Kings are both straight out of Stan Brakhage's scratch film technique. I'd also say that the "music immersion" sequences used by filmmakers like P.T. Anderson and Patrice Chereau, specifically where they depict moments of "excess" (drug use, sex, violence) are derived from Kenneth Anger, as are some depictions of occultism and the supernatural in horror films (like the color saturation in Carrie during the prom prank).

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It's been a while since I've seen Jean-Paul Melville's Le Samourai, but wasn't that pretty much the direct influence for John Woo's The Killer?

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
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  • 2 years later...
Twelve Monkeys is actually based on La Jetee. They might make for an interesting double-bill.

I just watched La Jetee, and the whole time I was thinking, "This is really similar to 12 Monkeys." Apparently, there's a reason for that. I'd even say that some techniques Gilliam used are similar to La Jetee. The brief flashes Bruce Willis's character keeps having of his death have more of the impact (at least in my memory) of a static image than a fluid scene.

It's the side effects that save us.
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