One of the biggest debates in the realm of film this year focused on legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese dismissing superhero movies as not being "cinema," resulting in passionate reactions both for and against him, with Mad Max: Fury Road filmmaker George Miller being the latest to weigh in on the matter, noting that it isn't so much up to the creators to define a film so much as it is up to each audience member to decide for themselves. In this regard, it's not that Miller is taking "sides" in the debate, since Scorsese's comments came from the audience portion of his perspective, but his comments help open up the discussion to more discourse.
“I watch all of them,” Miller shared with Deadline about franchise and superhero films. “To be honest, in terms of this debate, cinema is cinema and it’s a very broad church. The test, ultimately, is what it means to the audience. There’s a great quote I saw that applies to all we do. It was from the Swahili storytellers. Each time they finished a story they would say, ‘The story has been told. If it was bad, it was my fault because I am the storyteller. And if it was good, it belongs to everybody.’ It’s a mistake and a kind of hubris if a film does well at the box office to dismiss it as clever marketing or something else.”
The filmmaker added, “There’s more happening there, and it’s our obligation as storytellers to really try and understand it. To me, it’s all cinema. I don’t think you can ghettoize it and say, 'Oh this is cinema,' or, 'That is cinema.' It applies to all the arts, to literature, the performing arts, painting, and music, in all its form. It’s such a broad spectrum, a wide range and to say that anyone is more significant or more important than the other, is missing the point. It’s one big mosaic and each bit of work fits into it.”
Miller has earned immense praise in recent years for his accomplishments with Fury Road, as it has become one of the most celebrated genre films of the decade, earning more Academy Award nominations than any other film that year. Prior to the debut of either the Marvel Cinematic Universe of the DC Extended Universe, Miller was developing a Justice League film, which ultimately fell apart.
The filmmaker went on to note that, when he is crafting a story, he isn't doing it to cater to a certain demographic, but rather follows a personal intuition to see where the story takes him.
“I’ve spent most of my life figuring out how to tell stories, and also why we tell stories,” Miller detailed. “I think there’s something very elemental about that process. One of the things behind the impulse to tell any story is an intuitive exploration. I talk as if it’s an intellectual exercise but ultimately the intuition overrides everything. I can’t even tell you why I’m drawn to certain films, while others that are brilliantly crafted somehow don’t have the ability to stay in mind or be stories you become obsessed with. When I describe it as a Darwinian exercise, it really is. It’s the survival of the fittest, the one that insists on being made. When you have that, then you follow that arc. I don’t make many films, and I’m not always looking toward the next film I do, but I have a lot of stories to tell and things that like this one, that came together over many years, and this is the one I am most keen to tell.”
Miller noted that he would begin working on a new Mad Max after his upcoming film.
What do you think of his comments? Let us know in the comments below!