An Argument For High Speed Creativity


Last night I had the evening off so I thought I’d catch up with some movies. What would make a good double bill, I wondered. How about the latest releases from Lars Von Trier and Gaspar Noe?

Never do an edgy art-house double bill when you’re feeling a bit fed up.

I made it to the end of Noe’s ‘Climax’, but only just. I’m a Noe fan – I consider his film ‘Irreversible’ to be a deeply moral and heartbreaking film, but I understand why others walk out. A life lived in reverse, it at first seems pointless and violent until the transcendent second half places everything in context and delivers its meaning; life is precious because it is irreversible.

In his next film ‘Into The Void’ we spend most of the film floating above the streets of Bangkok in the afterlife of our dead hero. I saw it in a 3D director’s cut at a midnight screening and was still rapt at the end, disorientated and hypnotised.

In ‘Climax’ a troupe of young street dancers celebrate their tour with a party in their rehearsal rooms, but somebody spikes the sangria with LSD and all hell breaks loose. This film seems to have even less of a meaning than the others but it has now burrowed under my skin.

The fascinating part is the speed with which Noe made it. The cast was green-lit two days before filming started. They were not actors. There was no script. The takes, many of them several minutes long, were achieved in a day. The trick was in casting street dancers who knew or knew of each other so that a natural rhythm could form between them, and in preplanning. The result is mesmeric.

People complain that life is too fast but it makes me think that creatively at least we should be pacing things up and taking bigger chances. Part of having a creative career is not being able to innovate once but sustaining consistent innovation over a long run. It’s the reason why there’ll be a second Bryant & May book out this year – I’m working while the ideas spin out.

Noe did not simply hurl himself into a freefall of a project that could have gone as horribly wrong as the events in the film. He planned long, then launched fast. The actors pointed out that he always had clear control over every shot. The result is something that could not have achieved its energy and lunacy if it had been considered over a period of time and subjected to decision by committee.

The speed with which everyone worked had another effect – the film is without precedent. It fits no genre, has no stars and virtually no plot, and yet it manages to be contain the elements of a drama, a horror film, a musical, a whodunnit and a comedy.

I should have hated the result because the dialogue is improvised, but when someone knows what they’re doing it’s a relief to let them take control. And perhaps that’s what we want from all creative arts.

Here are five further films which are unclassifiable:

An Inconvenient Man

White God

Jupiter’s Moon

Mr Nobody

Drowning By Numbers

One comment on “An Argument For High Speed Creativity”

  1. Ian Luck says:

    Art Cinema has never really floated my boat. Just because you can make a 24 hour long film of the Empire State building doesn’t mean that you should, in the same manner that I might, as a drunken dare, nail my undercarriage to a table (and then discover that I’ve left my pliers in the shed).I must state that I watched, and enjoyed Luis Buñel’s ‘L’ Age D’Or’, and ‘Un Chien Andalu’, as although non linear, or make any sense whatsoever, they are both wildly creative, and set one thinking. Also, they annoyed a lot of people, which, to my way of thinking, is generally a good thing. I did watch ‘Drowning By Numbers’ whilst ‘heavily refreshed’, and did notice that every scene had a different number hidden in it somewhere. That’s all I remember about it. Sorry.

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