Our Voice: Stylus McQueen

I like the dictionaries. Please, don’t misunderstand me; I’ve never read a whole dictionary, I’m just saying that they are useful to remember us the truly meaning of some words. “Of course, that’s why the dictionaries are for, isn’t it?” I know but, how many of us we use to open one when we need it? We think that we have a clearly idea about the significance of all words, but we are wrong. The dust is not between the pages, is on our heads.

For example, I like a simple word as ‘style’. If we open our dictionary and we search for the definition of it, probably we’re going to find this:

STYLE. noun [stylus, Lat.]
A particular procedure by which something is done; a manner of way. 

This Latin term says a lot of things about us. I we are capable to consider ourselves as creative beings, the ‘style’ means our personal way of creating or doing things. So our ‘style’ is part of our identity. If we are loyal to our ‘style’, our expressions will be recognizable for the other people.

The problem comes when we don’t follow this principle. Other persons or external situations can force us to abandon our ‘style’. Then there is the risk to lost our own voice between the mass, being one more sheep of the flock. Our ‘style’ is one of the things that makes us unique, without it we are common ones.

In this scenario, I would like to talk about a cinema director: Mr Steve Rodney McQueen.

This Britannic director has appeared very recently on the current world of cinema’s scene, but even though, is nowadays one the most well-considered film-makers. McQueen belongs to the author’s cinema genre or the independent films; in other words, he cultivates a kind of cinema which tries to separate from the general cinema industry.

This film-maker has a very short filmography: four short films [‘Bear’ (1993), ‘Exodus’ (1997), ‘Deadpan’ (1997) & ‘Static’ (2009)] and three full-length films. His jump to fame came at Cannes festival on 2008, when he appeared with ‘Hunger’, a film about Bobby Sands, an Irish republican who leads the inmates of a Northern Irish prison in a hunger strike. After that, his posture of great director was fixed when he came with ‘Shame’ (2011), a dark and elegant tale about a sex addict. And now, he’s just premièred his new movie titled ‘Twelve Years a Slave’ (2013), based on the life of William Northup, a free black man who is abducted a sold into slavery (I really can’t wait to watch it!).

The reason why I went to watch for the first time a Steve McQueen movie at the theatre:

The cinema of Steve McQueen is viscerally realistic, dark and very personal. Despite of his short career, he expresses a rich and mature vision in all his works. Part of his success comes from the incredible association that he has found with the German-Irish actor, Michael Fassbender. What really surprises me about this director, apart from his movies, is that even that he is on the top, he had could maintained his own particular ‘style’.

So then, which is the main industry that is trying to separate from Mr McQueen? There is no doubt that nowadays Hollywood film industry is marking the tendency. This kind of cinema doesn’t lie: they always use the same formula in order to attract the mass and sell the maximum of tickets. In an interview, Steve McQueen said this after his first visit to Hollywood:  Is like when you realize there’s no Father Christmas. As an underground film-maker, McQueen prefers to cultivate his own ‘style’; he prefers doing his films showing his particular vision and voice. He turns his back to the economic benefits in order to produce a recognizable creation. In that same interview, McQueen claimed: I could never make American movies; they like happy endings.

As in real life, in cinema we always have two ways of doings things: our way or the others way. The cinema is an audio-visual mean that can work for educate or for earn money. Both principles are reasonable, but of course, both conditioned the creation process of a movie. Steve McQueen said once: “Art can’t fix anything. It can just observe and portray. What’s important is that it becomes an object, a thing you can see and talk about and refer to. A film is an object around which you can have a debate, more so than the incident itself. It’s someone’s view of an incident, an advanced starting point”.  I join to this director when he says that the cinema has to work in order to create a debate between the audience; there’s nothing wrong on going to theatre only for entertain you, but I’m just saying that it’s a richer experience when you get it out with a message, something with you going to reflect the next weeks.  

Ok, right. Maybe I mixed things, when I started talking about this film-maker: Hollywood, the independent films, the money, the meaning of movies, etc. But the fact is that I think that our ‘style’ represents us. I think that if we don’t allow anybody to move aside our ‘style’, as I said, we going to be recognizable to the others and to ourselves. I like those kinds of persons, as indie movie directors, who don’t want to apparent anything; they accept themselves as they are, even if they seem little weird or daring for us, they are authentic.

What do you think about that?


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