Essay 5: Three short films to Clint Eastwood

The following is a rough translation of an essay by Michael Baute of the Kunst der Vermittlung project. I used Babelfish and Google Translation to stitch together the most coherent translation I could manage; by no means perfect but hopefully you’ll get the idea:

Three short films to Clint Eastwood

At the end of 2008, upon the American theatrical release of two films of Clint Eastwood (Changeling and Gran Torino), the New York Film Society Of Lincoln Center invited critics in a roundtable discussion about the films. One of the critics involved is Kevin B. Lee, who applied the audio recordings of the discussions later to images of the discussed films and assembled in three parts uploaded onto YouTube (1, 2, 3).

Speaking about current, new films seems effortless, if these new acquisitions are to appreciative a work already existing. It can then be docked on already and thinking and opinion and note. Such docking happens also within the roundtable discussion; especially the third of the three videos which tries to classify the films into the overall aesthetics of their works’ director. With limited proofs from several films of the director a possible ”Eastwood look“, the one constant use of negative space, that is unilluminated parts of the film image, darkness, in which figures act, is distinguished.

Also in the second part of the small Eastwood series, to its Gran Torino, this reference is made on the complete work. It is particularly motivated by the current reception of the film in criticisms and reviews in the word contributions. Unanimously it is described there that Eastwood of his persona in Gran Torino adds a further facet of the aging hero; also comparisons with John Wayne are cited.

What is remarkable in this second part - more still than in the two others - is above all that the film succeeds in integrating the six critic voices and viewpoints in an artifact without being harmonized. Each of the speakers meets Eastwood’s film with a different interest, each individual voice pursues a different perspective. These perspectives are not a concluding evaluation. It is not interest of the video to draw a conclusion over Gran Torino. The video aims rather to seize the comments and their different focuses in the linearity of a film documentary process and to supply them with their own evidence of the excerpts of the film coupled to them.