The Glass Film

The best thing about DVDs has got to be the director’s commentary tracks. I absoultely love getting into the head of the people who put a film together, and to find out why they did what they did. Sometimes you can hear a bit of animosity on the tracks, sometimes things don’t come out the way they should, sometimes people make decisions that are not necessarily artistically sound.

I was watching The Glass House (don’t ask how I ended up with it) and I saw a movie with a lot of potential and some absolutely beautiful and stunning cinematography and artistic aspects, but lacking a lot in terms of a real story.

Basically we have a psychological thriller about this very very interesting and powerful idea — if parents die and leave their children behind, what happens to the children? What if there are no close family members? What if they live on the other side of the country? The parents might find close friends of the family and designate them as caretakers, not necessarily knowing everything they should about the other people.

Listening to the director and the writer talk about the film, I could feel a lot of what it should have been, with intricate backstory and important subplots. But the demands of a major motion picture are for profit, and in this case the markets have shown that teen thrillers need to run one hour fourty or a bit below, not over two hours. And stories have to be easy to grasp. And thrills have to be gotten to with a minimum of extraneous backstory. And, with this movie, it had to be rated PG-13 for a wider audience, and that meant kicking out a lot of the very effective morphine addiction subplot (and some of the more grisly violent scenes, which really didn’t detract anything).

Being in a motorhome on the highway I have no idea how this movie was received ( I can’t even remember hearing of it, and I don’t have IMDb at my disposal at present), but I’m sure that it was somewhat disappoiting at the box office. And I can see that a third of the scenes in the trailer are not actually in the final cut of the movie.

Its sad when you see a movie like this, a movie that intellectual snobs like myself can brush off as stupid and formulaic and mainstream, and you see that real thought and work and sweat and tears went into the making of it, and the end result, while beautiful, was only a mediocre piece of film. Because it could have been a lot more.

Another thought to file away in my cultural analysis of Hollywood. And now back to writing my script, which has gotten no further in my week of vacation.