02 February 2007

Creating violence

Why do filmmakers show violence in their films? Is it to create shock for shock’s sake? Or, is it to communicate an important message that violence should be stopped? Or, is it for some other reason altogether? Whatever be the reason, violence in films does get film-viewers to sit up and watch. The greater the shock on screen, the greater the audience impact.

However, that’s not where violence starts, or is created. When there’s a car crash or someone is beaten up by a mob or someone accidentally slips and falls right before our eyes, we stop and look. We hardly ever go to help. But we stop and stare – or perk up to a murder story in the local newspaper or on TV – as long as our interest lasts.

Why do we do this? Well, it seems it’s in human nature to stare at – or listen to – another’s misfortune. It gives us some sort of pleasure. The more gruesome the incident or tale, the greater our interest. A friend of mine had once voiced this aspect of human nature succinctly. According to him, as human beings, we are hardwired to enjoying a tragedy.

Some filmmakers thrive on this human affinity to violence – to watching terrible things happen to our fellow human beings. Murder, rape, serial killings, accidents, bomb blasts, war… you name it, we are drawn to violence as naturally as moths are drawn to fire. With one difference, perhaps: we know when to turn back.

When it comes to violence, our response is not only a physical one, but a mental one as well. That’s where filmmakers stand at an advantage over real-life tragedies. Filmmakers can use script, acting, lights, sounds, music, special colours, graphics and special effects, camera and editing techniques, etc. to heighten the experience of violence.

Thereby, creating their own form of violence in order to win over audiences like us. And, in the process, garner some fame for themselves. But then, where would they be without us?

1 comment:

Shefali said...

As I read this post, I remembered what I said when a friend asked me why I liked Gangs of Newyork and Omkara. I had replied, "They are BRUTAL and well-made". The brutal was so assertive that the fact that they were indeed well-made did not matter to her.

I also remembered what I felt about the extensive coverage of Gujarat riots in 2002. I did not watch a single news channel - why? They were BRUTAL.

Yes, we humans like to see violence as long as it interests us, then we tend to forget unless some piece of article reminds us at its 25th anniversary or highlights the corruption saying compensation is yet to be paid. We like movies because they are brutal, that is unfortunately entertainment.