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Realism in film

Parents: realism - film

When I'm talking movies with someone—let's say it's about a movie I happen to like—the one response I dread more than any other is this: "But the movie was so unrealistic...." The notion of "realistic" is so complex and misunderstood that it's enough to bring a potentially fruitful movie conversation to a grinding standstill. -- Girish in What Is "Realistic"? [Jul 2006]

Realist techniques: long take -

Related: everyday life - fiction - representation - verisimilitude

Genre: cinéma vérité - documentary film - kitchen sink drama - Italian neorealism - reality television - social realism

Early theorists: Kracauer - Bazin

Connoisseurs : Girish - Andrew Tudor

Contrast: fantastic film - surrealism in film - suspension of disbelief


Realism is a very difficult subject whether in the visual arts, photography, literature or in film. It is the very nature of artistic or documentary representation that tends to alter reality.

The problem of cinematic realism is perhaps best illustrated by two films that illustrate the representation of the Holocaust: Schindler's List by Spielberg and The Pianist by Polanski.

Some questions.

What is realism in cinematic content, realism in cinematic style?

Are there any parallels to be drawn between realism in literature and realism in film? [Jul 2006]

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