The Hollywood Reporter has the story:
People go to a movie to have a good time, and they get killed. It’s a horrible, horrible event. It makes me sick that I made a movie about it.
We made Targets 44 years ago. It was based on something that happened in Texas, when that guy Charles Whitman shot a bunch of people after killing his mother and his wife. Paramount bought it, but then was terrified by it when Martin Luther King was killed and Bobby Kennedy was killed. The studio didn’t want to release the film at all. So they released it with a pro-gun-control campaign, but that made the picture seem like a documentary to people, and it didn’t do too well.
It was meant to be a cautionary fable. It was a way of saying the Boris Karloff kind of violence, the Victorian violence of the past, wasn’t as scary as the kind of random violence that we associate with a sniper — or what happened last weekend. That’s modern horror. At first, some of the people [at The Dark Knight Rises] thought it was part of the movie. That’s very telling.
Violence on the screen has increased tenfold. It’s almost pornographic. In fact, it is pornographic. Video games are violent, too. It’s all out of control. I can see where it would drive somebody crazy.
I’m in the minority, but I don’t like comic book movies. They’re not my cup of tea. What happened to pictures like How Green Was My Valley or even From Here to Eternity? They’re not making those kind of movies anymore. They are either making tentpole pictures based on comic books or specialty pictures that you pray someone will go see.
The fact that these tentpole movies are all violent comic book movies doesn’t speak well for our society.
Obviously, there is violence in the world, and you have to deal with it. But there are other ways to do it without showing people getting blown up. One of the most horrible movies ever made was Fritz Lang’s M, about a child murderer. But he didn’t show the murder of the child. The child is playing with a rubber ball and a balloon. When the killer takes her behind the bushes, we see the ball roll out from the bushes. And then he cuts to the balloon flying up into the sky. Everybody who sees it feels a different kind of chill up their back, a horrible feeling. So this argument that you have to have violence shown in gory details is not true. It’s much more artistic to show it in a different way.
Today, there’s a general numbing of the audience. There’s too much murder and killing. You make people insensitive by showing it all the time. The body count in pictures is huge. It numbs the audience into thinking it’s not so terrible. Back in the ’70s, I asked Orson Welles what he thought was happening to pictures, and he said, “We’re brutalizing the audience. We’re going to end up like the Roman circus, live at the Coliseum.” The respect for human life seems to be eroding.
I disagree with the distinguished director concerning a few points.
Movies based on comic book heroes aren’t a cause of violence per se. When Christopher Reeve starred as Superman, there was not an outbreak of violence reported, nor has there been one after the current Marvel Superheroes Movies, including The Avengers.
The difference between those movies and The Batman Trilogy? They weren’t dark in tone. They were uplifting. Sure, there was plenty of violence in them, but, it happened to “the bad guys”, as a comeuppance.
The Batman movies, take an already dark and brooding character, and somehow, make everything that’s going on in the world around him, even darker than he is, as if there was no sunlight or hope in the everyday world.
I believe that the majority of Americans, Conservatives, have always had respect for human life.
However, we live in a time in our country where Traditional American ethics and values, including our Christian Faith, have been ridiculed and mocked by the Left and their Power Brokers as being antiquated, restrictive, ignorant, and even, bigoted.
And the majority of the movies which Hollywood has expectorated out in the last few years have reflected this skewed and intolerant view of Traditional American ethics and values.
For example, movies like Redacted, about the Iraq War, which Americans shunned like a Yoko Ono Concert.
When a movie is entertaining, and doesn’t try to run down our country, or teach anti-Christian or anti-American views and values, people turn out in droves, like they did in the case of “The Avengers”.
Americans are looking for another John Ford or Frank Capra, but instead, Hollywood’s giving us Tim Burton and Rob Zombie.