Art Cinema Elements in Holy Motors

Without even seeing the movie, the reading alone makes it clear that Holy Motors is an art cinema film. Bordwell describes one of the main features of art cinema is that the narrative features realistic conflicts that are experienced by complex characters. The short synopsis makes it perfectly clear that this film will follow this style of narrative, for the main character is described as a “shadowy character who travels from one life to the next”. The different roles he has to play, including an assassin, monster, beggar and family man, are not too abstract when taken individually, but the fact that the main character plays all these roles creates an incredibly complex character. Another characteristic of art cinema that Bordwell defines is that the director strongly imposes his visions and beliefs onto the viewer. Checking off this characteristic in an almost blatant manner, the director appears in the opening prologue of the film.

Director in Opening Scene

By including himself in the opening scene as a character that seems to break the fourth wall by being in a movie theater, the director makes it clear that he is the story teller of this film.  During the interview, he is also incredibly open about what the film means and his point in making it. This surprised me, as I feel like so many artists are purposefully cryptic about the points that they are trying to get across.

Were there any other elements that you picked up from this reading that made Holy Motors seem like an Art Film? Were you also surprised by the openness of the director in this interview? Was there anything you saw that would make this not at Art Film by Bordwell’s standards?

1 comment
  1. Having the director in the prologue of the film made me think back to The Grand Budapest Hotel. In there, it starts with the girl reading the book and the author of the book explaining a little bit about the story to come. And that movie is also about telling stories and how the stories change by who it is being told by. Perhaps by announcing that he is the one telling this story, he wants us to interpret his art the same way he does. This seems backwards from how a lot of artists think (ie interpret things as you wish), but it would be consistent with his openness to explain the film more in interviews. Maybe he thinks he has the best interpretation and just wants everyone to understand his views more. I am not sure, he seems to be a difficult person to relate to.

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