Upon reading chapter 6 of UFT, I found a newfound interest and respect for realism filmmakers/artists/performers. There is a great story in the book about Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier filming Marathon man where Hoffman took the method, internal approach to create his character while Olivier took the external, histrionic theatrical approach to external acting. His response to Hoffman’s weird performance techniques was “Try acting, dear boy.”

I’m of two camps when it comes to realism. I don’t want to sound like a pretentious art-house loving cinema goer who refuses to support big-budget Hollywood material because it manipulates images and presents typical effects driven, popcorn fun. I love movies like that and often NEED them when I just want to escape and be entertained. But there are certain stories, subject matters, and projects that really need attention to realism and verisimilitude to succeed. Most Oscar films we see attempt the realism approach, which is why they are rewarded at the ceremony. A recent example, American Sniper, works because Eastwood wants to create images that reflect middle east warfare and Cooper trained 12 hours a day for months to truly transform into a believable Chris Kyle. Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List are two Spielberg examples of candid, realistic images exposing the rawness of the story far more than a commercial friendly approach to warfare or the horrors of World War II.

I’m looking forward to discussing realism in class. Most of my favorite performers are method actors. I prefer truthful, realistic performance style to over-the-top, theatrical delivery. Dicaprio, De Niro, and Nicholson are good modern examples of method actors who will go to great lengths to ensure accuracy in their performances. That’s why when I watch (certain) films of theirs, I am amazed at how they can transform themselves into these characters. That comes from within. For Dicaprio to go from a Rhodesian diamond smuggler to Jordan Belfort believably is nothing short of ridiculous.

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