Imagine cinema as the sea. Imagine being picked up and hurled bodily
into that sea. Some films are like that. Suddenly, you no longer have
a picturesque ocean view, or a pleasant medium for transporting you on
a vessel from here to there. You are wet from head to toe, you are
part of the ocean, and you must swim or sink.
Greed is a film like that. The Last Laugh is a film like that.
Here are some others — Intolerance, Touch Of Evil, The
Conformist, The Searchers, Chimes At Midnight, The Rules Of the
Game, L’Atalante, Titanic, Vertigo, Seven Samurai, Sherlock, Jr., The
Band Wagon. These are not films you can just look at — you
have to navigate them, exert yourself to keep your head above
the surface of them.
I’m not talking about films which merely overwhelm the senses or the emotions (and certainly not the intellect), but films so alive with cinematic, that is to say plastic, invention that you find yourself ravished by the medium itself — aesthetically overwhelmed, as it were.
It doesn’t really matter what you think of such films, just as your opinion of the ocean is irrelevant when you’re thrown into it. You are forced to react to it, on its own terms, not yours, one way or the other. You accept those terms or you drown.