The Freedom of Art House Cinema

I’ve been known to enjoy art house films from time to time: experimental films that most people balk at and say are a waste of time. I believe quite the opposite, although I do have my limits. There are times when the experimental becomes too experimental, and the art house films because too artsy, but in general I enjoy them from time to time.

I remember taking a film production course in college that was entitled Advanced Video Production. The first day of class our professor told us how the course was going to have us tap into the side of our creative selves which in regular film, and regular art for that matter, we may not always be able to tap into. He explained how anything around us can be inspiration and potential art pieces.

This is where I think the art house cinema is a great thing to consume every once in a while. It allows freedom. Freedom of thought and freedom of action. The filmmakers had some crazy idea and then just went with it. Art house cinema does things no mainstream film would dare to do: consistently strange cuts, abstract montages, surreal color palettes, heightened sexuality or violence, long takes, extremely slow pacing, etc. If the director/writer has a reason for making the film then that heart will show through in the final cut.

It also gives young filmmakers and writers a reason to get a little crazy in their work. Not everything has to be a clear-cut narrative with a happy ending. We can get weird and abstract. We can get extremely semiotic with what is on the screen. We can experiment and see how far we can take something. If anything, it’ll help us reel it in when we do the more traditional narratives.

As with anything, however, it can be taken too far. I’ve seen many art house films that are atrocious and difficult to get through and at the end I’m wondering what the hell did I just watch? Sometimes I won’t even finish it. However, if you get through one and it leaves you thinking and not disgusted for having watched it, then maybe there was something in it that really touched you. Explore what that may be and you may just discover what your art may have been missing.