Shower the screen with popcorn

VERY SENSIBLY, the American film industry has decided not to submit its new products to the Cannes Film Festival. Last year, the most awful thing happened to some movie or other about Bruce Willis in a vest with ten minutes to save the world; the Cannes audience laughed at it. The resulting bad publicity has made the American studios so nervous that they aren't prepared to give Cannes the opportunity to ridicule their summer blockbusters.

Actually, I saw last year's Willis-in-his-combinations movie at the local flicks on a wet Saturday afternoon. I find it difficult to believe that people were laughing any more in Cannes than they were in Brixton at this incredible pile of rubbish.

These days, the American film industry seems to spend most of its time and effort swathing its products, pre-release, in the utmost secrecy; an operation designed less to guard intellectual property rights, and more to hide the appalling, unspeakable horror of this week's SFX extravaganza. The longer the studios can keep a film from an audience, the longer they can keep themselves from having to admit that it is the most complete load of crap. The new Star Wars movie has been guarded like Fort Knox, and is already universally acknowledged to be rubbish.

So much talent and ingenuity, in fact, goes into the protection and marketing of these films that you wonder why they don't divert some of it into the actual making of the film. I mean, if they're capable of devising new strategies all the time to sell a film, you wonder why once in a while they can't devise some new strategy for telling a story.

The American film industry is in a truly awful state. The release of the new Star Wars movie is a moment to wonder why - because Star Wars is probably the single reason for its decline.

There is a story, much told in Hollywood, about a preview of Star Wars. Brian de Palma is said to have come out and told George Lucas that he had just made the worst film in history. That's as far as the story goes, and the moral Americans draw from it is that de Palma was spectacularly wrong.

But it seems to me that de Palma had a point. However many people have seen the movie, however many revoltingly vulgar little plastic dolls of Darth Vader have been sold, that in itself doesn't stop the movie being completely terrible. That's like arguing that McDonald's or Burger King are the best restaurants in London because that's where most people eat.

I remember when Star Wars came out thinking that it was more or less OK, but embarrassingly predictable and third-hand, without any of the sci-fi inventiveness which has always made Star Trek, say, so enjoyable. The special effects were thrilling, of course, but there was a repulsive vein of American whimsy running through the whole thing setting your teeth on edge.

Everyone at the time, I remember, responded much more enthusiastically to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and I've never met anyone who thought Star Wars and its increasingly cutesy sequels was anything more than generally OK if you had nothing better to do. What I remember best is how loud it seemed. And after the deafening spectacle of Star Wars, American films grew louder and louder. You started to wonder whether this was a deliberate ploy to drown out rude comments from the stalls.

One terrible movie hardly matters, but you have to remember that before this freak cynical movie, the American film industry was making Five Easy Pieces and Apocalypse Now. Afterwards, everything was high-concept and low-IQ.

The biggest talents were ground down by the studios; Coppola carried on for a while, but was never allowed to reach the pinnacles he had scaled in the 1970s. Spielberg's promise was dissipated in money-making sub- Star Wars whimsy.

Even Kubrick, in the end, could not escape an industry whose only conviction was that a film ought to make as much money as possible in the first weekend, before the word-of-mouth killed it; a conviction based on the frank recognition that its products were rubbish, and resented by its public, and how such an industry can possibly survive is a matter of some mystery.

Though Cannes has been deprived of its moment of triumph, I think we all ought to acknowledge that we have a duty to be critical. So the next time you find yourself watching some deplorable sequel to a sequel, alternating hi-tech SFX with interludes of nauseating whimsy, don't sit quietly. Blow raspberries at it; laugh; throw popcorn; or just jolly well don't go. We owe it to ourselves as Europeans, and we owe it to the pathetic tattered remnants of the American film industry too.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman as Doctor Who and Clara behind the scenes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cheery but half-baked canine caper: 'Pudsey the dog: The movie'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce leads the MTV VMA Awards 2014 nominations with eight

music
Arts and Entertainment
Live from your living room: Go People perform at a private home in Covent Garden

theatre
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor