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Qualities Of Better Films #4 of 31: Integrity To Concept

Is the movie more important than attracting or “satisfying” the audience? Does the filmmaker avoid pandering to popular tastes? Are the choices made aligned with the content of the film? Providing pleasure does not require compromise of principal, yet this compromise is found in many works lacking true ambition.

There is something counter to ambition in being eager to please. Yet, maintaining integrity to the concept does not require abandoning satisfying pleasures. An ambitious filmmaker will place the film and it’s integrity above the simple pleasures—and this in turn may very well deliver a greater pleasure, albeit a more complex one. Integrity to the concept is the pursuit of a principal that places greater value on the whole than on the sum of its parts. When an individual momentary pleasure in the film is in violation to the film’s central concept, it breaks the relationship between the audience and the screen. It breaks the trust.

Where is this trust in the concept initially established? It generally comes down to what helps us develop expectations. The choice and adherence to a genre and its dictates has a great deal to do with it. Pacing and composition also helps to establish what we think may happen or not. We still can be surprised without sacrificing the film’s integrity; we just have to feel simultaneously that that surprise was derived from the rules that were established.

— Ted Hope

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