I interviewed screenwriter/film-instructor Craig Detweiler at Biola several months ago in L.A., before any trailers for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had even been shown. (The trailer debuted above Detweiler’s head on a big screen at the Biola Media Conference.)
Here’s a clip:
Do you see “good, beautiful, complex, redemptive” films being made today?
Detweiler: Almost every class I teach here ends with David Gordon Green’s film George Washington, which came out in 2000. It asks, “What is possible?” It dares to suggest that there could be a new George Washington born as a poor black kid in the southern United States, faced with an epic crisis as a young man—his own cherry tree—and rises to the occasion and becomes part of that great tradition of Georges, from George Washington all the way up to George Washington Carver to Geronimo to George Bush. He’s the next in line.
I end my classes with George Washington because of the profound hope in it. Here is one of the youngest filmmakers with one of the purest artistic visions, and [his movies are] already in the Criterion Collection. It doesn’t matter if nobody’s seen or heard it. It will stand the test of time, whether people discover it this year, in ten years, or in a hundred years—it doesn’t matter. It’s going to last.
What lessons would you most like to see Christian filmmakers learn?
Detweiler: We surely don’t need any more End Times films. We don’t need any more films that mean what they say and say what they mean. I think we have to discover the lost art of subtlety and subtext.
At Biola, we start our filmmakers with visual aesthetics. We let them know that film is not meant to be an illuminated Bible. This is an art form that is visual by design. It does not need words to convey the message. What I’d like us to do is figure out what lighting, sound, color, props, and set design say. I’d like us to discover the power of silent film, to discover how Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc worked and continues to work, how Sunrise continues to work, how The Last Laugh continues to work.
Looking back at 2005, those who measure a film’s importance by its box office success will point to the final Star Wars chapter, Revenge of the Sith. How important is that film to you and your students?
Detweiler: I wish I did care. I’m sad to say I don’t. And I think my students don’t care. Hard to believe.
Lots more at the link.