Alfonso Cuarón: “Narrative is the Poison of Cinema”

Children of Men drops you smack dab in the middle of an apocalypse. You’d better be ready.

Alfonso Cuarón isn’t interested in explaining everything to the audience. He wants us to struggle to get our bearings. The work of understanding is what makes art an experience rather than just an assault or a “message.”

Here he is talking about his aversion to using cinema as mere narrative.

“What I hate is when cinema is hostage of narrative,” he told me. “Then I say, ‘Come on — don’t be lazy, read a book.’ If you want to see performances, go to the theater; it’s fantastic. It’s an actor’s medium there and a dramatic medium — at least conventional theater. But come on, leave cinema alone! Let cinema breathe, in which narrative is an element of the cinematic experience, but it’s [just] an element, as acting is an element, cinematography is an element. Music and decors, those are elements. But right now? Cinema becomes just about seeing illustrated stories as opposed to engaging audiences in an experience in which you don’t explain much.”

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  • SolShine7

    Jeffrey, with all due respect, I totally disagree with your review on this one. I found The Reaping to be surpisingly good.

    The visual effects helped me to imagine just how real and scary those plague events would have been for the Egyptians.

    I thought Hilary Swank offered another solid interesting performance (although not Oscar-winning) in playing the role of the skeptical professor. Her banter with her partner (Idris Elba) was quite enjoyable.

    I thought the setting made sense because weird things still happen in the South. In the 90s, there were some high schools who still had seperate proms for black and white students and then there was that black guy who got dragged behind a pick-up truck by some white men. So the “witch hunt” depicted in South in this story was plausible.

    It’s strange and unexpected but this is the first time I walked away inspired about faith from a “horror/thriller”.

    I give this movie 3.5 stars (out of 5) and two thumbs up.

  • Sheila West

    Wow! Just one-half of a star!!!

    How many films have you ever given just a half a star to, Jeffrey??

  • jasdye

    not sure why i read that review (already knew it was a stupid attempt at exploitation. compared to say, Planet Terror).

    but i had a question about a minor part of your review. being a member of that audience for The last King of Scotland, do you really think that most of us gave a rip about the white character? i thought it was pretty clear that the filmmakers wanted us to see him as just another colonialist, another freewheelin’ opportunist who wants to have sex with anything that moves. i did not care for him at all.


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