Make Your Picks

Introducing non-cinephiles to film

Tools    





Sorry if I'm rude but I'm right
Hey, I was wondering how would you approach introducing an absolute beginner to the world of film. A sort of 'becoming a cinephile' crash course and later the continuation of that with more 'advanced' schooling, branching out onto even more films.

I'm not asking about ideas on how to do it effectively, e.g., easing them off into films by first showing them something like Spielberg, and then gradually challenging them with more artistic stuff. Nope. I mean, just let them deep-dive from day one. But which films, or filmmakers, or genres do you think they should watch, and in which order?

Becoming a cinephile and watching films is obviously a gradual process, so I wonder how would you space it out throughout, say, 5 years, so that person is well-versed in the world of cinema after that time and now only has to spend another 10 or so years filling up the blanks.
__________________
Look, I'm not judging you - after all, I'm posting here myself, but maybe, just maybe, if you spent less time here and more time watching films, maybe, and I stress, maybe your taste would be of some value. Just a thought, ya know.



Hey, I was wondering how would you approach introducing an absolute beginner to the world of film. A sort of 'becoming a cinephile' crash course and later the continuation of that with more 'advanced' schooling, branching out onto even more films.

I'm not asking about ideas on how to do it effectively, e.g., easing them off into films by first showing them something like Spielberg, and then gradually challenging them with more artistic stuff. Nope. I mean, just let them deep-dive from day one. But which films, or filmmakers, or genres do you think they should watch, and in which order?

Becoming a cinephile and watching films is obviously a gradual process, so I wonder how would you space it out throughout, say, 5 years, so that person is well-versed in the world of cinema after that time and now only has to spend another 10 or so years filling up the blanks.
I don't know that I would. A film demands that you sit, inert, in a hypnagic state for an hour or for hours. It is an experience machine, devoid of true social interaction, productivity, or achievement. Rather, it makes you a dreaming potato for a few hours. But we already do this every night as we sleep. Our world is so distracted by apps and games and flickering screens, that I don't know that I would recommend another flickering screen (e.g. that won't do much for the obesity epidemic or the loneliness epidemic).



I think Hitchcock, Kubrick, Wilder, Kurosawa, Chaplin, and Leone would make for good introductions to classic cinema. As for some specific films, 12 Angry Men, Psycho, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre would likely be good entry points as well.
__________________
IMDb
Letterboxd



Sorry if I'm rude but I'm right
I don't know that I would
Some people are well-read. You're too well-read for your own good.

Maybe if you put more time into watching films versus reading and thinking about them, you'd have better taste.



I think Hitchcock, Kubrick, Wilder, Kurosawa, Chaplin, and Leone would make for good introductions to classic cinema. As for some specific films, 12 Angry Men, Psycho, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre would likely be good entry points as well.
Can't say that they wouldn't, but I think they're far too few for a good introduction. I also think that any introduction devoid of Tarr, Bergman, Tarkovsky, Angelopoulos, and Mizoguchi, among others, is a bad idea. I think it'd be perfectly fine to skip Hitchcock and Chaplin, even Wilder, for at least the first few months (maybe except for Vertigoand Psycho). I imagine just binge-watching Tarkovsky's, Tarr's, and Bergman's best is a good introduction. But there's the idea of making it more varied, not a bad idea either. I'd say throw in something truly impenetrable like Brakhage or Isou, too. Would make for a good reference point to hate every "normal" American film at first, which I think is a healthy reaction when you expose yourself to a lot of all-time masterpieces at first.



Some people are well-read. You're too well-read for your own good.
Goes to bookshelf to pluck a devastating classic literature quotation comeback from a leather-bound second edition autographed by the second cousin of author. Nothing fits. I collapse onto the floor, sobbing.

Maybe if you put more time into watching films versus reading and thinking about them, you'd have better taste.
Bruh, I'm not the one reppin' Star Crash.



Sorry if I'm rude but I'm right
Bruh, I'm not the one reppin' Star Crash.
Starcrash is one of the best films of the 70s. But one needs heart to understand this. You merely have a CPU, albeit a well-functioning one!



Personally, I think through people---by which I mean I like to watch one director at a time and go through as much of their work as possible. That helps, I think, in introducing others to film because focusing on an individual allows you to both see instantiations of movements, subversions of movements, and the influence of personal style. Of course this might be a slower approach in comparison to more traditional, historical curricula, but I think it will produce a deeper appreciation and understanding in the long run.

Also, to echo what is said above, Bergman is perfect for this.



Sorry if I'm rude but I'm right
I like to watch one director at a time
Yeah, but you MUST go chronologically. The obvious downside is that some directors started out rather poorly, so you force the beginner to watch a bunch of middling movies before they get to the meat. Of course, it's great so observe how a filmmaker has been developing their style and quality, but I don't think this is necessarily great for beginners. I named Bergman because he has a plethora of great movies to binge. But focusing on him so hard as to watch all films chronologically is definitely no newbie task.



Yeah, but you MUST go chronologically. The obvious downside is that some directors started out rather poorly, so you force the beginner to watch a bunch of middling movies before they get to the meat. Of course, it's great so observe how a filmmaker has been developing their style and quality, but I don't think this is necessarily great for beginners. I named Bergman because he has a plethora of great movies to binge. But focusing on him so hard as to watch all films chronologically is definitely no newbie task.
True, but watching Bergman's top 10-20 would be fair if the person is really dedicated!

I don't necessarily agree on chronology, though---or at least the importance of that is dependent upon your goals. If you want history, then of course. But if you are looking at film art, I could see many different approaches being appropriate.



I don't think there's a specific process or checklist. Just make them watch films they're interested in, and eventually, if they're into it, they will seek different stuff. Whether it's films about the same thing but from different directors or decades, or perhaps more challenging stuff, until they keep getting deeper and deeper into film.

I've been watching films "seriously" (for lack of a better word) for almost 30 years and I still don't consider myself to be a smidge of the cinephile that others are. Not to mention the amounts of films and directors I still haven't seen, so this is literally a never-ending process. There is no goal; the ride is what's fun.
__________________
Check out my podcast: The Movie Loot!



Sorry if I'm rude but I'm right
I don't necessarily agree on chronology
I'd say it's great with auteurs that don't have dozens of films. Andrei Tarkovsky or Pedro Costa would be amazing if watched chronologically.

I guess an important question is: do you want your hypothetical person to love movies, or just to know a lot about them?
Of course I'd want them to love movies. I don't want them to know anything, as I believe that a blind approach to cinema is the best.

Itís not necessary to go chronologically, as that is too difficult to do if certain films arenít available.
Not an issue with most best auteurs.

Whether it's films about the same thing but from different directors or decades, or perhaps more challenging stuff, until they keep getting deeper and deeper into film.
Yeah, I have but a few areas of real interest in cinema. But the idea of seeing something incredible and watching more stuff to find something like that is a strong one, for sure.



My personal approach would be to work in a thematic/elemental way.

I'd ask them what movies they already like/love, and what they love about them. Then I'd curate a set of movies that I think do those things well or do them in an interesting/different way. Then, based on what they engaged with, continue to branch out from that original set of interests.



My personal approach would be to work in a thematic/elemental way.

I'd ask them what movies they already like/love, and what they love about them. Then I'd curate a set of movies that I think do those things well or do them in an interesting/different way. Then, based on what they engaged with, continue to branch out from that original set of interests.

That's exactly what I was going to say as well. There's so many movies and directors that are considered the greatest, but you're basically shooting darts blindfolded if that's the only thing you're concerned with when recommending stuff.


Not only that, but god knows they won't get it if they haven't been used to that kind of cinema. I used to watch the top of all the best-of lists I could find when I started and I didn't get jack about why this or that movie was supposed to be so good. There's a rather opaque language to that kind of cinema that makes them very inaccessible to those not used to reading it.



The trick is not minding
Not an issue with most best auteurs
It is when you consider availability is an issue for many. Even with Criterion, I canít finish off Melville or Tarkovsky, since they have a few films missing. Iím not going to wait for them to appear finally before I move ahead and watch whatís available.

Iím aware you donít always practice this either. Although Iím sure you try to as best as you can.



Can't say that they wouldn't, but I think they're far too few for a good introduction. I also think that any introduction devoid of Tarr, Bergman, Tarkovsky, Angelopoulos, and Mizoguchi, among others, is a bad idea. I think it'd be perfectly fine to skip Hitchcock and Chaplin, even Wilder, for at least the first few months (maybe except for Vertigoand Psycho). I imagine just binge-watching Tarkovsky's, Tarr's, and Bergman's best is a good introduction. But there's the idea of making it more varied, not a bad idea either. I'd say throw in something truly impenetrable like Brakhage or Isou, too. Would make for a good reference point to hate every "normal" American film at first, which I think is a healthy reaction when you expose yourself to a lot of all-time masterpieces at first.
Would your hope be for a non-cinephile to enjoy the directors you listed or just for them to have those films under their belts? Because if it's the former, they might not be the best entry points. Though great, their films are overall more impenetrable than the ones I mentioned and are more of an acquired taste. Which isn't to say that a non-cinephile is incapable of loving them, but if you throw someone into the deep end right at the start, they may feel discouraged to go further if they respond negatively. I think someone new to film would benefit to watch films from the directors I mentioned and later check out the directors you mentioned.



I'd say it's great with auteurs that don't have dozens of films.
For sure. That's how I did Pasolini the first time around (setting aside a brief confusion about the order of the tragedies in relation to the allegorical films...).



All films, the good ones and the shit ones, the inspired ones and the hack ones, are all one giant organism. It doesn't matter what you watch, as long as you are committed to watching a lot of them. To not be afraid to be confused or bored or annoyed. To commit to just watching anything you can get your hands on.


The idea that anyone is going to grasp why Tarkovsky is great, before they understand what is both good and bad, interesting and boring, in more conventional films, is highly suspect to me. You have to understand what makes things bad before you are every going to even begin to grasp what makes them good.


Now, as for the people who just choose to keep watching the shit movies and cower in corners afraid of ever being challenged, well....I guess we can pray for them. But I won't.



Maybe the short answer is, just tell people to watch movies they know absolutely nothing about. No idea what the story is about, or what genre it is, or the runtime, or their reputation...just one movie after another where they are forced to contend with these images coming at them with no context.



That is probably the surest way to get someone streamlined into understanding films on this level. Force them to view everything they watch as alien artifacts, where the only language on hand to decipher them is a cinematic one. Just make it so they have to ****ing actually watch something.