This idea came from a few auteurs who seem to follow this path in total contradiction to the narrative cinema tradition, to me they represent the epitome of "contemplation" since only images are left to hold the film together : Bela Tarr, Tsai Ming-liang, Bruno Dumont, Weerasethakul, Sharunas Bartas, Kore-eda, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Sokurov, Lisandro Alonso, Carlos Reygadas, Pedro Costa. So they are the ones I'd like to focus on primarily. There are also individual films by other auteurs that fit this profile perfectly without being a consistent trademark.
The discussions have been really exciting so far, but I'll ignore the "contemplation" argument for now, and instead concentrate on these 4 criteria (technical descriptors) :
- PLOTLESSNESS : no obvious (forefront) drama, no beginning, no denouement, open-ending, no drive to go forward, no major narrative gimmicks (flashback, multilayered stories), simplicity, atmospherical depiction, distanciation of protagonist(s) with background action, no imminent threat, no external forces pressuring the protagonist(s).
- WORDLESSNESS : laconical interactions (or silent protagonist), no plot-drive expository filling, no psychological arguments, no voiceover, direct-sound (no score), body language.
- SLOWNESS : long takes, static shots/slow camerawork, patient pace, uneventfulness (down time), "unnecessary" mundanity, uncut movements, activities filmed in their entirety, extended wait/pauses, conscience of time.
- ALIENATION : disconnectedness, wandering/idleness/listlessness, solitude, fatalism, ennui/melancholy/depression, non-conformity, no intellectualized existentialism, distanciation of protagonist(s) with the world, with other characters, emptiness, empty frames, distanciation of the camera from the subject.
Damnation; The Seventh Continent; A scene at the sea; D'Est; Satantango; Vive l'Amour; Few of Us; The River; Mother and Son; L'Humanité; Werckmeister harmóniák; Millennium Mambo; What time is it over there?; Blissfully Yours; Dolls; Hukkle; Japon; Uzak/Distant; The Brown Bunny; Elephant; Goodbye, Dragon Inn; Nobody Knows; Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring; La Blessure; Los Muertos; Tropical Malady; The World; Batalla en el cielo; Last Days; Seven Invisible Men; The Sun; Colossal Youth; Fantasma; Flandres.
For these I'm sure the proposed profile fits, so I use them as models of reference to define this "family". And I'd like to compare them and see how each film overcomes the 4 "constraints" (which are not creative limitation self-imposed by the auteurs). I'd also like to figure statistical occurrences in these films to see if these protagonists share similar concerns, and their auteur a common vision of the world.
Of course, this is my own humble interpretations of the topic. Everyone is free to disagree, argue, and propose a different profile, or continue to explore contemplation in narrative cinema. All this can be developped on this blog at the same time and inter-communicate, this is the value of a collegial workshop.