Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In Movies - Less is More

You don’t need a crystal ball to know I am not into Nollywood movies huh? And why? Well, to mention but a few of the things we dont just get right:
Theatrical talk - “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! How dare you not answer when I call. I, your own mother?’ or
Five minutes of film tape watching Rita Dominic roll her bulbous eyeballs to indicate anger malice or retribution, or
The hissing, puckering of lips and keeping of arms akimbo to show displeasure or
The continuous chorus of Alleluias or Jesus calling to indicate some luck or providence.

I know African culture isn’t exactly subtle. We are loud and proud but I think real life and motions behind the camera and lights are entirely different.
Eye rolling and screaming in real life contexts isn’t as obvious as it is in film when the camera is focused on you and thus EVERY ACTION you make is literally magnified. Have you seen our sequences when the actor is in deep thought and his thoughts are being read to us. Rarely do they get the finer nuances. As his thoughts come to a conclusive next line of action, there comes this unsynchronized head nodding “Yes [nod], I shall [nod] go to the village [nod nod] and tell Mama[nod nod nod nod]. Yes, [nod nod] that is what I will do [nod nod nod]. It’s not an exaggeration abi people?
What happened to subtle hints that lets the viewer complete your with/for you. That is what gets us involved.

Imagine this scenario, a family of 6 who have fallen on bad times and are barely scraping by. Poor mom is coming back after a particularly hard day looking for a job. Then as she walks past a high rise unknown to her a barely eaten box of pizza comes fast falling down towards her. Fast rewind, Scene shows a rich family with one of the kids about to eat her pizza order and because she is greedy and wanted to eat it all alone runs towards the window and as a tussle ensues between her and another sibling, the pizza slips off their hands and falls.
As the viewer, you are already anticipating poor mom’s joy. And rooting that the pizza falls into her basket..which then happens.
At this point, it would be an overkill for poor mom to start chorusing Alleluia, and dancing on the street or rolling on the ground in thanks.
A huge smile on her face and a simply whispered ‘Thank you Lord’ conveys it all. Then a jaunt in her steps as she now walks home with a meal for her family.

In Naija directing: she ‘d first bind all satanic forces out to get her in the food. Or she comically looks around for enemies or the police. Then finally run amok with alleluias, Jesus’  and testimony giving. You the viewer gets irritated and just wishes the scene over. We lose the magic of that moment because of poor directing!

This brings some great movie scenes to come to mind:
Avatar: In the Tag post, I said I cried over the destruction of Pandora. I lied. My first tears in Avatar was during Jake Sully’s first simulation as an avatar. He NEVER said ‘Yeah, I can walk’ but he showed it. Jumping running so joyfully. I felt that miracle… for every physically challenged person I have ever met.

Pelican’s Brief: When Julia Roberts cries and body resonated with each detonation of her lover’s car. I felt it. I felt her.

Slum dog millionaire: After the phone call to Lathika ended. You knew without him saying it, that for Salim had won his jack prize. He didn’t jump up, clench his fists in victory or anything like that. Just this serene smile that said ‘all is now well with my soul’.

The Champ: Champ, wake up. Champ! Hey don't sleep now. We have to go home. Got to go home Champ.

If I can read these emotions in mainstream movies why do our directors keep feeling that they have to be so loud for us to understand???
Exaggerations are for comedy please!

Who has memorable scenes from movies to share?


  1. hi ginger, luv Ur blog. 1 of my favorite movie scenes is from mystic river sean penn trys to get to his dead daughter and it literally takes 20 cops to restrain him they practically have to hold him down.there's this shoot of him screaming surrounded by a sea of policemen holdin him back. not exactly subtle but it gives me goosebumps every time

  2. Thanks for dropping a line Angie. I havnt seen Mystic river but i am definitely checking it out asap. sounds like something i will cry over!

  3. I would like to exchange links with your site
    Is this possible?



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