Sometimes I muse.
The other night I watched IN THIS OUR LIFE (1942) on TCM and really enjoyed it. Bette Davis is a very bad witch, narcissistic, sociopathic, all the icks. Her sister, Olivia de Havilland is so sweet and unassuming, it's like watching the battle of archetypes.
After the movie ended, TCM played SUPER FLY, and I watched enough of that one to hear the theme song and make certain Ron O'Neal was still sexy as hell, which he was. (I'd have watched the whole thing but it was already past midnight and I was turning into a pumpkin.)
And I started thinking...in cinema, we began in silent movies, with large gestures and facial expressions. From there, we moved into melodramas and broad comedies, still with larger-than-life performances. Stereotypes, archetypes, it was difficult to find a performance that represented "normal life."
And then, technology and equipment and filmmakers intersected to make movies that felt like real life. The camera could follow Priest down the streets of Harlem while he makes a drug deal. No one's horrible, no one's honorable. They're just people doing what they have to do. Archetypes are for superhero movies.
I looked at that evolution in contrast to the evolution of visual art. Artists used to paint a tree to look like a tree. To paint it any other way would get them blocked from galleries, critics, and basically the general public.
Century of Augustus: Birth of Jesus Christ
But a handful of artists chafed at the sameness of portraits and religious/historical scenes. They took their canvases outside and started to work with the concepts of light and shadow, line, space. Like filmmakers, they wanted scenes from real life, although they wanted to paint them in the least realistic way possible. (BTW, it took them over ten years to be accepted.)
Madame Monet & her Son
While one medium took the road from broad strokes to reality, another medium took it the other direction.
Why was I thinking all this?
Because stories. Throughout time, writers have been able to tell all the stories. Melodramatic, realistic, fantastical, experimental, we can twist and turn a story any direction we want.
I've got no strings
To hold me down
To make me fret
Or make me frown
I had strings
But now I'm free
There are no strings on me.