The Omniscient Viewer

I’ll be the first to admit it: I can count the number of black and white movies I’ve seen on just one hand. I’m not particularly proud of it, in fact there seems to be some sort of elitist better-than-you vibe I get when someone can name more black-and-whites than me — oh ho ho. But why is it so difficult for these classics to hold my attention? Or maybe they would if I just gave them a chance. The combination of a shorter attention span, an expectation of extreme quality, and the assumed need for full-color has driven myself, and just about everyone else in my generation, to essentially banish black-and-white films.

One particular aspect of modern movies, the idea of an omniscient viewer, is something we take for granted. I never even stopped to think how it was physically impossible to be the main character, the main character’s friend, a pilot, a dead man, a bird, etc. all at the same time. In real life, we don’t have the luxury of witnessing life from all possible angles — like the firemen in 1903, we’re either inside the house passing out, or we’re outside looking at the rescuers. As viewers, this cut-and-paste, one point of view at a time, seems almost alien, but why? We’ve gotten so used to being everywhere all the time that it seems strange, or even boring, when older movies force us back into reality and slow down. Movies and TV shows have evolved into a fantastical new world where literally anything is possible (my goodness I love sci-fi and fantasy). Directors from the early 19th century didn’t think about escaping — it was more about documenting people’s way of life. And this isn’t a bad thing, just different. It’s what divides a ‘classic’ and modern flash fiction.


Here’s lookin’ to the future of film.


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