In this five-minute video essay, filmmaker Ernie Park compares two different versions of a 1953 film: one edited for Hollywood audiences and one for Italian filmgoers. By comparing two different versions of the same footage, the video essay comes across like a think piece on how seemingly cosmetic changes can affect meaning, tone, and content in movies.
Park, who goes by the name Kogonada, created this short video essay for the British Film Institute (here's Park's interview with NPR last week about the essay). The short film compares the Hollywood and neorealism by using David O. Selznick and Vittorio De Sica's unsuccessful collaboration as a case study. In the early 1950s, legendary Hollywood producer Selznick, best known for his work on Gone with the Wind, commissioned Italian neorealist director De Sica to make a film. Because of unresolvable stylistic clashes, two films resulted from the footage: Terminal Station in Italy and Indiscretion of an American Wife in the U.S.
Martin Scorsese also recently wrote about the perception and film in a marvelous essay in the New York Review of Books. It's similarly inspiring, intelligent about movies and life and stuff, though it's far more expansive and opinionated. Here's a quote from Scorsese's piece about movies from that era, which adds another level to consider regarding neorealist cinema. And it's just a wonderful note to end on:
We were living through the emotional truths on the screen, often in coded form, which these films from the 1940s and 1950s sometimes expressed in small things: gestures, glances, reactions between the characters, light, shadow. These were things that we normally couldn't discuss or wouldn't discuss or even acknowledge in our lives. And that's actually part of the wonder. Whenever I hear people dismiss movies as "fantasy" and make a hard distinction between film and life, I think to myself that it's just a way of avoiding the power of cinema. Of course it's not life—it's the invocation of life, it's in an ongoing dialogue with life.