Independence versus dependence, art versus industry: The conflict of history (of cinema)

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The history of cinema in a certain sense mirrors the history of society as a whole. The main conflict, which affects numerous human activities, is: independence or dependence, freedom or slavery, creativity or mechanical execution? This film dilemma is actually the core of the greatest dilemma in the history of mankind. The dilemma that continually arises within our lives without ever abandoning us.

In every age, in every sector, at every latitude and in every culture, man yearns for freedom and the enhancement of his individuality, while society, the world of work, social relations force him into a very limited reality, a constant a condition of compromise or real slavery. The conflict takes the form of power against the people, of the rich against the poor, of the privileged against the oppressed. But its main nature is always the same. Many people fail to clearly see the origin of the conflict and get lost in the details, turning their protest against the rich, the powerful and the privileged. But they fail to understand that they too, in most cases, are a cog in the system. 

The independence of the original cinema

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Cinema was born in 1895, officially thanks to the Lumiere brothers. In reality, for decades, several inventors had been perfecting the new technology, attempt after attempt, with a series of prototypes and contraptions that had progressively approached the Cinematograph invented by the two Parisian brothers. Edison and many other personalities contributed to the improvement of the Cinematograph during the nineteenth century. 

As soon as it is born, the Cinema is a free invention, independent of power, available for all possible experiments. It can take all possible paths. It is a new form of expression, a new art form, and many approach it to create films and explore the potential of the new medium, that can reproduce dreams and imagery on the big screen.

From the first documentary films of the Lumière brothers to the fantastic stories of Méliès, the Cinematografo conquered the world in a few years, achieving great success. It is perfected more and more, more and more comfortable theaters are opened, cinema enters with arrogance the Olympus of great inventions for the development of civilization, and it also becomes a thriving commercial activity.

Cinematographic art and artistic avant-garde

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In the 1920s the number of avant-garde experimental movements and films is impressive and a great artistic variety is achieved. Impressionism, expressionism, surrealism, Dadaist and futurist films: cinema mixes with the other arts in search of its identity, between literature, music, and above all painting. They are the most important directors of those years who give specificity to the cinematographic language, as in the case of the Russian avant-gardes.

Like Eisenstein, Vertov in the Soviet Union. Like Jean Epstein’s impressionism in France. For example, the Swedish director Robert Christiansen, who in a single film, Haxan, anticipates The invention of the fake documentary, the Godard-style essay film and gothic cinema. Inventions of this kind will become rarer and rarer over the decades. In the creative mechanism of cinema, in which technological improvements make their way one after another until the advent of sound, something gets stuck. 

Cinema loses its subversive power and artistic experimentation, its sacred dimension, and is monopolized by strange characters. We begin to produce films with different intentions. It is no longer the individual expression of the artist and his search for truth, the fulcrum of the productions. Nor is it the good intention of portraying reality honestly and constructively. The cinema wears the clothes of propaganda, it becomes a means of mass communication, the most powerful tool of occult persuasion. 


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Independence manipulated by power

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In front of the big screen, the little viewer feels overwhelmed by the images that shape his unconscious. The political propaganda of Soviet cinema and other totalitarian regimes, however, still allowed great creative freedom. Within the narrative structure built for the persuasion of the masses, filmmakers could insert their art and amaze the audience. The level drops dramatically as films become serial industrial products. Hollywood was the first to build this type of impersonal film industry, where the director is nothing more than an employee serving the assembly line. 

It is at this stage, in the 1930s, that cinema loses its vital force of independence and avant-garde. The films are technically perfect, illuminated, colored by fantastic sets. Movie stars are created at the table, a kind of unattainable Gods who represent the dream of the common man. Stories are meticulously planned to help identify the largest possible audience. 

Films are produced serially, genres and sub-genres are created to reach various audiences. Each audience is hooked with the faces of famous actors, which the big studios tie with ten-year contracts. The idea is to bring these characters into the family, in a repetitive and reassuring entertainment routine, in order to guarantee the sale of each new production. 

The standardized product destroys independence

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The cinema loses its personality and its attraction as a new art to become a product like any other, marked by a precise bar code that identifies genre, sub-genre, target audience, markets, propaganda messages and advertising. These characters take cinema and transform it into a mass media to shape society, the mind of the public, to reach out to the masses and set the stage for lifestyles that are planned for the future.

Cinema is the perfect way to manipulate the personality of the individual. The films are fun, captivating, made with great professionalism. They entertain, do not make people think, and they also have the ability to convey messages that are not always explicit through the symbolic nature of the image, which speaks directly to the sphere of the irrational.

The cinema instead of continuing to evolve for what it was, an almost magical tool for the exploration of reality, painting that comes to life, goes the same way as many other inventions. It is exploited and used for commercial and political and spiritual control purposes. That is, cinema no longer proposes the artist’s point of view and his inner research, which consequently also becomes the inner research of the public.

It simply conveys a message to fill the spectator’s existential void, to keep him in a kind of hypnotic state in which he dreams of golden worlds, dreams destined to die out quickly when the cinema comes out. cinema becomes like drugs, like alcohol: a substance for temporarily forgetting problems and conflicts.

Cinema as entertainment

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Cinema is a world of escape, the island that does not exist, an escape from reality that serves to relieve tensions and escape from the imprisonment of a society full of contradictions. While the avant-garde artist used cinema to reach the levels of true art, in impersonal and industrial cinema there is no longer the primary goal of artistic creation: cinema is like a bottle of whiskey, a sensory stun, a ‘ temporary escape from the prison of reality.

While the avant-garde artist evolved through the creation of new solutions to access new levels of awareness, the industrial film serves to soothe the pain, it is a pleasure limited in time that does not show us any way. Indeed, it offers us a sweet get lost in a labyrinth of dreams. And still today this is the dominant idea of ​​cinema: a hangover to go crazy, a wild binge watching to enter the serial world of mainstream channels.

But cinema is only a small piece of the puzzle. It seems that this conflict, independence versus enslavement, creativity versus mechanical repetitiveness, is something that has invaded all sectors of human activity, a conflict that everyone must experience every day in his everyday life, sometimes in a dramatic way. Buildings, products, even food have become products without personality, without real value, produced on the assembly line, and man now assumes that this is the case, that this is the only possible and “reasonable” way.

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As the Overton Window teaches, any nonsense, any taboo can become a socially accepted mass phenomenon on a global level. Here today this “homologation of everything“, of cities, neighborhoods, shows, art, information, fashion, ways of thinking, appears normal to us. If you try to ask someone what they think, they are likely to reply: “it is reasonable that this is the case”.

It seems normal to us that every invention, every opportunity for the development of civilization is transformed into an anonymous product, quickly replaceable, available in unlimited quantities. In reality this approach leads nowhere, it only leads us into a world of fiction, where everything looks like plastic, where each product consists of an attractive empty package. We have reached a point where people no longer buy the best product, but are mesmerized by its colorful, fun, seductive box. And the market meets the demand: it produces empty boxes.

Independence is a concept applicable to every area of ​​our life. The more independent we are, the more possibilities we have to be free, to enrich ourselves, to understand what happens to us. Independence is the antidote to resignation of any kind: even against material resignation, the perverse reasonableness of a mechanical life in the service of an assembly line, the depressing ideas of propaganda that you are not skilled enough and that you cannot make it. . They are all lies, in reality the doors to reach the most ambitious goals are wide open. Independence is the cure for hypnosis.

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