Good Scene / Bad Scene

Chosen by Liliana Cavani, the Director Of 'Ripley's Game'
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The Independent Culture

Good: 'Psycho' (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

Hitchcock narrates internal turmoil in a wonderful way. This happens when Marion has a conversation with the hotel owner, Norman (Anthony Perkins), who will kill her in the shower in the next scene. Set in the little sitting-room at the entrance of the hotel, the scene makes us understand that everyone has a dark side - not just Norman - and also starts to explain his dual-personality problems.

Their dialogue isn't heavy-handed, but this conversation makes Marion realise her own dark side, and particularly when he says something to her about how we are all in a trap. She's a well-to-do girl who has come to the hotel after stealing money from her employer, and she's in a trap of her own making. Meanwhile, she gives the impression that she understands that Norman is deeply ill, despite Hitchcock having explained nothing.

Hitchcock manages to convey all that is going on inside of us without being too overt and without long dialogue, and he ensures that we are glued to the screen by letting the camera describe internal turmoil, too. The details of the room describe Norman's situation - for example, the stuffed birds represent, quite simply, life that has been stopped and manipulated, and that's Norman's trap.

Bad: 'La Chinoise' (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967)

This scene is like watching a political conference, and that's not cinema. It's about a group of French students who are studying Mao and want to use his teachings to change the world via terrorism. The most boring scene is in a room in a Parisian apartment and Véronique (Anne Wiazemsky) starts a long discourse about Marxism from a Maoist point of view, and how she's against the Western way of life. It was like watching someone read a book about politics, and I was overwhelmed by an urge to have a deep sleep.

I disagree with using cinema solely as a way of presenting a political discourse. It can so easily end up being pure propaganda. This film was very popular in the late Sixties, when a lot of people were involved in student revolt, but I don't empathise with a character who is talking about a reality that she has never seen herself - China under Mao. It's fake.