Way off on what? I was writing about tradition-of-quality cinema, as Truffaut dubbed it in "A Certain Tendency of French Cinema." The term refers to the sort of vacuum-sealed, scenaristically-balanced, mise-en-scÃ¨ne'less (and therefore "literary" -- which was at least a pejorative term before the Cahiers roundtable on 'Hiroshima mon amour') type of cinema which by its sheer "sheen and polish," and "nicely tied loose ends" alone, tended to win the hearts of the mainstream critical establishment, who commonly demonstrated no emotional response to those lunatic ontological qualities of the cinema such as space, light, sound and dream, and who in turn urged the public that CarnÃ©/PrÃ©vert embodied French cinema in all its glory. The situation was kind of like the sort of films that win at the Oscars (and are nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars) in 2006.HerrSchreck wrote:Dreyer's PASSION, you may be fascinated to know, is the highest grossing silent film on the arthouse-silent circuit. So you're way off on that one.
'The Passion of Joan of Arc' does not belong to this tradition. Nor does 'A Story of Floating Weeds.' 'Cabiria' and DeMille's 'King of Kings' do, although both have their hysterical, beautiful moments. This classification is obviously subjective (to a degree) -- but what isn't. And while 'Passion of Joan of Arc' might be a big grosser on the silent-film-circuit (the popularity of these films with the public had nothing to do with what I wrote about, incidentally), to my knowledge it quite often screens with that wretched Richard Einhorn score, ruining the whole thing. Almost as bad as once-in-five-years screenings of Feuillade in which the exhibitor has hired a pianist to rinky-tink ad-lib for five hours straight.
For what it's worth, Scorsese comes out for lots of films which are epic entertainments, but which I don't find very interesting. Did you learn about any Italian films you -hadn't- heard of in 'Il mio viaggio in Italia' (and did you learn anything new about the ones you did know)? I didn't. While I like the man, I don't see why his opinions should be ascribed any more heft by anyone in "the public" than, say, my own opinions, or yours, or Cinephile X93.
And just as an addendum -- When I wrote "polished, global masterpiece," I was referring to all of the tradition-of-quality traits that I run through in my post before this one, but I was also, perhaps too circuitously, I don't know, making a comment about 'masterpieces ordained as such by the mass-public and David Thomson, Anthony Lane, Pauline Kael, et al.' The "popularity" of a film with audiences isn't something, maybe not-so-needless to say, which bestows canonical greatness on it. So the public likes 'The Passion of Joan of Arc' with the terrible Richard Einhorn score -- wonderful. Will they still like it as much if it played before them in complete silence? Maybe, maybe not -- but that's how the film should be seen, and I would argue that, in that state, the film forces an audience to come to rather meditative terms with some issues, truths, emotions and sublime awkwardnesses that the score in some way, I believe, sands away. Would the same audience care for 'Gertrud'? In either case -- fully silent 'Passion' or simply resplendent 'Gertrud' -- the public's opinion is nothing in the great and theoretical god's-eye-view decision of whether a film should be held and saved and treasured and passed on to future generations. Or whether it's something I myself respond to and think about forever-on-end after viewing and re-viewing.
Frankly, in a present day-and-age which gives us a "mass public" and, resultingly, distributors and DVD publishers largely not-going-too-far-out-of-their-way to educate movie-goers in the cinema of Straub-Huillet, Jacques Rivette, Abel Ferrara, Pedro Costa, Philippe Garrel, Jerry Lewis, Naomi Kawase, and on and on and on -- what good are receipts? No good at all. What they do is allow the perpetuation of certain distributors flaunting a 'The Informer'* in place of a 'Doctor Bull,' 'Wagon Master,' 'The Sun Shines Bright,' or '7 Women.'
* -- A film which is not without its moments. (Namely, everything with McLaglen drunk on the town. But it will remain Ford's 'A Woman of Paris' till the end of days -- thanks to one era's mass public.)