IF only there were a way to quantify how DVDs have sustained the creative side of the business. Sure, the format has reinvigorated the business side of moviemaking, broadening its audiences and revenues, but what about the filmmakers and the actors?
Darren Aronofsky, director of one of this month’s DVD releases, The Fountain, realises the format has broadened his audience and possibly made him a more successful director than if he’d merely relied on cinema success.
His first film, Pi, was a darling of the festival circuit, but a release most of us would have seen on DVD. The Fountain, starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, is a polarising film that is sure to have a strong life on DVD.
‘‘ A lot of people didn’t get the opportunity to see it on the big screen and I think a lot more people will get to see it on DVD,’’ he says. ‘‘ That’s always happened with my films. No one saw Requiem for a Dream and Pi in the movie theatre, but I think most kids today or most people in their 20s have seen Requiem because of DVD.’’
Aronofsky appreciates that is the way many see films today, particularly films that ‘‘ take a little bit more time to discover or are outside the mainstream’’.
His films are certainly that. If you thought Requiem for a Dream was trippy, wait until you see The Fountain, a meditative meander across 1000 years and three distinct stories circling existentialism. Despite having Jackman as its lead, in his most complex screen performance, The Fountain was never going to be one of the films that broke boxoffice records on its opening weekend. But it has found as many advocates as critics and thereby will likely go on and on in its DVD life.
The film’s pacing recalls Terrence Malick’s work in The Thin Red Line and The New World, a comparison with which Aronofsky is more than happy. The Thin Red Line is a film people still seem to discover years after its release.
‘‘ The New World, I thought, was one of the great films of the [ past] 10 years and nobody saw it,’’ he says.
‘‘ That’s a movie that needs time to get discovered in the theatre, but you don’t get that opportunity any more, you’re basically having to do these crazy numbers or the film disappears the next day.’’
So, too, with Aronofsky’s films. He laments not living when films were given a chance to find their audience in cinemas, but ‘‘ it’s a very different world now’’.
‘‘ The result of that is you have a bunch of boys running around in tights, that’s our culture these days,’’ he says.
That said, Aronofsky has found a niche as an engaging visual and aural stylist. But The Fountain is arguably half the film it might have been given the original star, Brad Pitt, jumped ship seven weeks before it was to shoot on the Queensland Gold Coast. Cate Blanchett and Aronofsky were stranded.
The director eventually moved the project on, albeit with a much reduced budget.
‘‘ You find the way to make it and, believe me, the money I did have to make it was more money than I’d ever had before,’’ he says. ‘‘ I don’t think the films would be that much different, the essence of each was the same. But there’s a lot of Aussie crew out there who were intimately involved with the film and I’m curious to hear what they felt. I think they would have felt it was similar to what we were trying to do there.’’
* * * DISC WATCH: Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny ( Roadshow, MA15+, $ 29.99). This is what they call in the trade a ‘‘ flawed comedy’’. Jack Black and his musical partner Kyle Gass were given carte blanche to create a musical comedy when all they needed was a couple of sketches. To their credit, they pack the DVD full of extras. bodeym@ theaustralian. com. au