Volume 92, Issue 63

Wednesday, January 20, 1999

elmer the elephant


Mobsters & Mexicans invade Mother Mary Molotov

Downey gives rehabilitating performance in Dreams

Ray breaks sugar coating

Coming full circle in the millennium

Coming full circle in the millennium

Imagination is dead. Creativity is lost. There is no such thing as an original thought.

These statements have plagued Hollywood and the art of filmmaking for the past two decades. Critics have accused the industry of being unoriginal and stagnant, the allegations striking when a trend of remaking classics, re-releasing old films to theatres and replacing human characters with those created from a computer, emerged.

The latter trend exploded, if not began, with the cinematic feat of 1977's Star Wars. In the February issue of Premiere magazine, filmmaker George Lucas addresses the issue of creativity in movies as film technology catapults the industry into the new millennium.

This issue is close to his heart, as Star Wars: Episode I, to be released this summer will be the first production to combine human characters with digitally created ones. The article offers an opinion and philosophy behind filmmaking through the eyes of a veteran who both followed in others' footsteps and broke new ground.

He discusses the bare bones of filmmaking – the main goal of which is to communicate with others while realizing one's imagination into moving pictures. He then states that the medium – digital or celluloid – does not interfere with communication or creativity. After all, humans are still the ones operating the computers and it is still their ideas which fuel the final product.

Lucas argues the definition of creativity and originality must also progress to encompass expanding cinematic technologies. Perhaps instead of redefining the concepts of originality and creativity, it is more appropriate to remember what they meant in the first place – how they originated. The Oxford Dictionary's definition of "creative" includes the phrase "inventive, showing imagination as well as routine skill." The definition of original includes "existing from the first, not derivative or dependent."

When you consider these definitions, it's clear creativity and originality, when considered together, are not absolute terms. Creativity combines one's specialized ability as well as innovation. If an idea has been explored at one time, to explore it again utilizing different technologies doesn't make it unoriginal. The product of an individual's idea which is brought to life can still be original and creative, even if the source is not.

To now call filmmaking void of original thought and creativity is to ignore the thousands of years of literary influences which came before moving pictures. To say the first films ever made were entirely original is ludicrous – the novelty of the medium is what made them creative.

Replacing human characters with digitized ones doesn't mean there are no more original human characters to develop, filmmakers are simply experimenting with the medium.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999