Following on from the last post, I’ve been checking out a few other short films. SIGNS is beautiful in its musical simplicity and the everyday familiarity of its isolation. It perfectly captures the human desire — the need — for connection, again something that can be done in 12 minutes better than in 120. As a gamer, particularly intriguing was the Half-Life-inspired What’s in the Box?, shot entirely in first-person. Its Half-Life influences are clear, right down to its mute protagonist, but for all its visual flair (its augmented reality HUD in particular) it raises they key problem with an extended first-person excursion in film. By losing your visual connection to the character whose viewpoint you are experiencing, one actually becomes detatched rather than more immersed. Character development is virtually impossible in this disembodied form, and even interaction is problematic. It serves well only as a way to explore an environment (and so work reasonably well here) but this is a perspective that is always better suited to a videogame where the player controls the exploration. When that control is taken away, it feels confined and almost paralysing as we are guided around against our will. By comparison, the visually impressive Half-Life 2 fan-film Escape From City 17 (be sure to check out the HD version) is arguably more immersive from its standard 3rd person viewpoint.
It will come as little surprise that the vast majority of my film collection is rate 15 or 18. While not exactly unexpected — adult-orientated films are wont to include analogous adult content — I am still often perplexed by its apparent family unfriendliness. In fact I own exactly 4 Universal-rated films: Wall-E, Monsters, Inc., Labyrinth and (for personal childhood meaning) Flight of the Navigator. Admittedly there are several child-friendly PG films (as someone who strongly believes in scaring children and allowing them to enjoy the experience, I think many of these could be watched by a child of any age) but the real limiting factor has been the extortionate cost of Disney films. Their cunning DVD (sorry, Disney DVD) ploy was to release each major film for a very limited run so the price never had a chance to drop. Now this has waned but they are still hardly cheap. As such I jumped at Amazon’s BOGOF Disney deal to make things a little kid-friendlier. That’s my excuse anyway.