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10.12.2007

Beijing, Munich, and the Twin Towers

This morning at work for a client someone mentioned China and what they are doing to get ready for the Games in 2008. That reminded me of the film "Munich". The film is certainly not happy, contains significant violence and nudity, but should go down in film history for several reasons. Among them:

1. The same year that Peter Jackson released his fully digital "King Kong", Spielberg went with a complete film/chemical/"old school" workflow for "Munich".

2. Much less noteworthy is the use of a zoom (yes, a zoom instead of pushing in the camera via a dolly or a crane). Zooms traditionally (and realistically) mark a poor cameraman. If you look at home video footage it is rife with zooms. But I have noticed that because this is such a part of "raw home movie" footage that smart filmmakers now use zooms, in moderation, to show something is "really happening" and not just part of a multi-million dollar Hollywood production.

3. Spielberg is the first filmmaker post 9/11 to show the Twin Towers on screen. And he didn't just show them. He stuck them at the end of his film and left them there for a long time (I wasn't running a watch, but it was at least 5 seconds of nothing but the Towers) before the fade to black. The film makes a powerful point with this bold move: We must move prudently through our own attempts to find justice when faced with evil.

That's one of the many things I love about film: The ability to inspire conversation, provoke thought, and challenge ideas. And now, as I look forward to the 2008 Olympics, I hope we as humans have learned something since 1972.

What should we take away from all this as filmmakers? First, we have the power to influence, if not change, how people think about things, so we must be careful with what we say and how we say it. Second, despite the cry of "Entertain me!" from the mass populace, there is still very much a market for films like "Schindler's List" and films that give us pause. Third, we would be wise to stay abreast of the current trends in the "grammar" of film so we can most accurately communicate with our audience.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

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