Bordwell and Thompson define the art film as "a film which, while made under commercial circumstances take an approach to form and style influenced by "high art" which offers an alternative to mainstream entertainment" (1). Like avant-garde film making, this style offer the audience with a movie that takes glory in cinemas stance as a modern art form, for art house films are not just intended to be entertaining, they are designed to be imaginative.
Shekhar Kapur's 1998 film 'Elizabeth' presents us with a contemporary art film. Although it does offer entertainment through a fascinating narrative, the film as a whole is presented in a creative way, owing to the auteurish vision of Kapur. Indeed, as the film is arguably British, abroad 'Elizabeth' by definition becomes as 'art film', since Bordwell and Thompson also define the term 'art house' as a phrase "used by the U.S film industry to describe imported films of interest to upper -middle class, educated audiences" (2).
In America, 'Elizabeth' was packaged solely as an 'art film', or at least an 'art' interpretation of the British Heritage thriller film. This labelling is of course debatable and by comparing the fundamental ideas regarding art films to 'Elizabeth', one can access the validity of its claim to being 'cinematic art'. The characteristics of an 'art cinema' film are best outlined in David Bordwell's article 'The Art Cinema as a Mode of Film Practice' and this text will form the basis of my assessment of 'Elizabeth'.
Bordwell suggests that "art cinema defines itself explicitly against the classical narrative" (3), yet 'Elizabeth' is clearly conventional in narrative style. Film analyst Wendy Ide, even suggests that 'Elizabeth' follows the tradition three act narrative set-up precisely, with climaxes at the end of each act. As proof she suggests that Queen Mary's death is the climatic resolution to the first act, "which takes place exactly 30 minutes into the film" following the traditions of...
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