I watched a movie on TMC Saturday night, the name of the movie is the Gypsy Moths. It’s a story about a group of barnstorming skydivers that visit a small Mid-western town to hold a show.
It features Burt Lancaster and Gene Hackman along with a star studded cast of actors before they were famous.
What really impressed me was how silence is used almost like a color in the directors palette. You listen to the sound of the air as they fall from the sky, there is silence between characters.
Another tool the director uses flawlessly is human interaction. Not with words or long oratory, instead the silence, the look at each other. The director shows you the characters by what they do, not by what they say.
Another wonderful aspect is the camera angles, the tension between characters, the amazing use of light that creates a landscape where the viewer is able to pick up all the emotions without knowing everything.
There are layers that slowly unravel for the viewer to explore. There are textures that aren’t immediately evident. You have to watch, it keeps your attention because you don’t want to miss the interaction.
These days, everything needs to be spelled out to the viewer, explained, spoken and you are lead through the plot with twists that jar you instead of actually knowing the characters.
The old movies insist that you invest in the characters, you get to know where they are, how they react and what they don’t say is more important than the obvious dialog.
My favorite directors, the Coen brothers, bring back that same use of silence, the investment in the characters and the fact that often you learn more from what isn’t said.
I would suggest we go back to the old days, when the director had less effects to work with and used every tool they had with the drama and skill of an artist.
The Director explains to us a story, even takes us to a place to meet specific characters, they then allow the viewer to fill in the blanks with their own experience and imagination. What happens is you are engaged, you’re not just a spectator, you are involved in the scene.