If there’s one person who could add to the ongoing debate about what defines cinema these days, it’s Australian fIlmmaking legend George Miller.
Miller’s work has run the entire gamut – he got his start directing the “Mad Max” films which went from indie exploitation to Hollywood blockbuster by the third. As a director he’s dabbled in family fare (“Babe,” “Happy Feet”), drama (“Lorenzo’s Oil”) and dark comedy (“The Witches of Eastwick”).
As a producer he delivered cinematic prestige TV back in the 1980s when no-one else was doing it with mini-series such as “Bangkok Hilton,” “The Dismissal” and “The Dirtwater Dynasty” along with acclaimed films like “Dead Calm” and “Flirting”.
Then of course there’s the project that didn’t take off, “Justice League: Mortal,” which remains one of the most high profile scrapped projects of the modern era that failed to go into production. Miller is also famously an auteur, working to his own schedules and doing what projects fascinate him.
Miller was asked by Deadline this week what he thought of the debate of the artistic merits of superhero films and blockbusters, a debate that began in earnest following comments from Martin Scorsese earlier this year. Miller revealed his perspective, saying its unfair to marginalize franchise films:
“I watch all of them. 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. 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 admits that one’s intuition can and does often override a film’s intellectualism which is why one’s appreciation for a film is not necessarily measured by how well it’s crafted: “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.”
Miller is currently prepping to shoot “Three Thousand Years of Longing” in March ahead of another potential “Mad Max” film.