Monday, August 16, 2010

The Academy Responds

Esteemed film critic Leo Braudy, the leading voice of the status quo and professor at the University of Southern California, has generously responded via email to the announcement of this new blog. As to be expected, he disagrees with ELP’s bold proclamation.

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Leo Braudy:

Sorry to be negative, but for all its lavish production El Cid is to me a very boring film, slavishly hieratic and bound to some strange repetition of the static speechifying of Corneille's original. It comes alive only briefly towards the end, and seems otherwise entirely bereft of the well-staged action and psychological subtexts that mark so many of Mann's other works. As in his next film, The Fall of the Roman Empire, some potentially interesting touches are submerged in a choking preoccupation with sets, costumes, etc.

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I thank Professor Braudy for his response. I wonder: Are we talking about the same movie? I saw “El Cid” scarcely one month ago on a large movie screen in New York. I found “El Cid” to be thrilling and unsettling. The experience of viewing it as it was meant to be viewed was overwhelming. I was on the edge of my seat throughout. Most of all, I was stunned by the depth of the film’s themes, and by the extent of relevance to the world we live in now.

The academy produces and supports not originality, but competence. Professor Braudy gives his personal opinion, but it also happens to be received wisdom. His voice about “El Cid” is the accepted voice. I’d wager his other judgments would similarly fall down the line of what’s long been valued and revered in film studies. Does Professor Braudy highly rate “Citizen Kane”? It’s no surprise to find after some quick googling that he does.

Maybe his opinion is the objective reality. Maybe “Citizen Kane” is “the best,” as Braudy assesses it. Maybe “El Cid” is in fact not very good.

To counter this I present the opinion of film buffs, as expressed at

www.imdb.com/title/tt0054847/usercomments

Is IMDB the opinion of the mob? Not quite. The mob is watching “Step Up 3D” at the cinemaplex. But IMDB is not expert opinion, as Braudy’s is expert opinion. Leo Braudy has spent his life becoming, and being, the expert. His degrees, position, and standing prove it.

Much of what Braudy says is answered by the Arguments I’ve already made for “El Cid,” found linked on the right of this blog. Please click them on. I’ll make a few more comments in a few short posts to come.

“El Cid” is objectively a greater, stronger, and deeper movie than “Citizen Kane.” This will be shown.

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