October 23, 2017

The Death of God and Violence in the Movies

Fritz Lang directs Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame in The Big Heat ('53), a brilliant movie about violence.
Fritz Lang during the filming of Metropolis (1927) On the increased use of violence in post-war films: “After the war, there was no longer a sense of family. We no longer loved our flag or honored our country. People no longer believe in hell and brimstone, or even retribution and therefore they do not believe in punishment after they are dead. What could we be afraid of? There was only one thing: physical pain. Physical pain comes from violence and I think today that is the only fact that people really fear. And when we are afraid of violence, then it becomes an element of drama. So, brutality’s now a necessary ingredient of dramatic development and denouement. We can’t avoid violence because it is everywhere. It should be present in films. But everything depends on the way it is shown. I detest violence when it is shown as a spectacle or when it is used to make us laugh. And that is how it is used more and more on the screen.” -Lang, in 1967 interview (via Brunnhuber’s Fritz Lang: His Life & Work)
Fritz Lang during the filming of Metropolis (1927)
On the increased use of violence in post-war films:
“After the war, there was no longer a sense of family. We no longer loved our flag or honored our country. People no longer believe in hell and brimstone, or even retribution and therefore they do not believe in punishment after they are dead. What could we be afraid of? There was only one thing: physical pain. Physical pain comes from violence and I think today that is the only fact that people really fear. And when we are afraid of violence, then it becomes an element of drama. So, brutality’s now a necessary ingredient of dramatic development and denouement.
We can’t avoid violence because it is everywhere. It should be present in films. But everything depends on the way it is shown. I detest violence when it is shown as a spectacle or when it is used to make us laugh. And that is how it is used more and more on the screen.”
-Lang, in 1967 interview (via Fritz Lang: His Life & Work)

By Robert J. Avrech

I have a close friend who produces low-budget horror films. He’s a gentle man, married with children. An admirable person in every way. I’ve screened a few of his movies but kept my eyes averted for extended periods.

The truth is horror films scare me.

And I have zero patience for films that traffic in violence against children. I won’t even try screening them.

I like to think that the films I’ve written are not gratuitously violent. But I do know some people who think that my first film Body Double is way too graphic. I can only tell you that Director Brian DePalma and I relied on suspense—think Hitchcock for we surely did—rather than bloodshed. We used the suggestion of violence, especially in the now infamous drill sequence. And we did a good job because the films feels a great deal more violent than it really is.

In any case, I was reading about the great director Fritz Lang the other day and came across the above quote which I thought prophetic and accurate.

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