Anyone who knows me (in any capacity) knows that I adore watching films. While science fiction will always have a special place in my heart, if offered, I will watch just about anything — silent, noir, superhero, buddy cop, etc. As I’ve grown more attentive to the construction of films — that is to say, lighting, mise-en-scène, soundscaping, etc. –, I’ve noticed a slightly disturbing trend: my favorite aspects (and what I would argue are the most important aspects of film) are being sidelined. As everything in our lives moves faster and becomes more in-your-face, plot and character development are being either rushed or skipped over entirely in favor of fast action sequences, stunning (or obnoxious) shots with over-the-top special effects, and, of course, expensive soundtracks. While I don’t want to down play the importance of choreography, cinematography, or soundscaping and design (in fact, I wanted to be a foley artist at one point in my life), nor do I wish to mourn a long-gone age of film, I do want to point out the disturbing trend: big-budget films — that is to say, top billed, IMAX, summer blockbusters — are increasingly turning into two hour music videos.
I recently had the pleasure of going of out to see the new Johnny Depp film, Transcendence and despite the film’s lack of flair, its critique of technology and the technocratic future which some welcome can be examined through the lens of German philosopher Martin Heidegger.
Specifically, Heideggers concepts of bestand (standing reserve) and gestell (enframing, for lack of a better word) serve as perfect tools for analyzing Dr. Will Caster’s transformation and subsequent interaction with humanity and his workers.