Director Paul Schrader, perhaps most idolized for writing Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, blames moviegoers for the lack of "serious movies." The screenwriter/director is responsible for what many are calling one of the best movies of the year with First Reformed, which has been getting awards buzz as well. However, that may change after some rather controversial comments about the current state of filmmaking and the entertainment business. Schrader has been around the industry for over 40 years and has made some incredible contributions to the art of screenwriting and directing, so he has seen some pretty major changes.
Paul Schrader recently spoke at the BAFTA Screenwriters Series in London about the lack of quality movies coming out these days. To be fair, film critics and people in the industry often look back at a certain period as being a "golden age," which could be said about any art medium. However, Schrader doesn't think that the 1970s was actually better for the entertainment business. He explains.
"There are people who talk about the American cinema of the 70s as some halcyon period. It was to a degree but not because there were any more talented filmmakers. There's probably, in fact, more talented filmmakers today than there was in the '70s. What there was in the 70s was better audiences."
This is when things start to get a bit controversial. Paul Schrader is now stating that audiences were better in the 1970s, not the actual movies that were coming out. There have been debates about the quality of movies lately, but Schrader has a pretty unique vision of why people are complaining about the current state of the entertainment business. He had this to say.
"When people take movies seriously it's very easy to make a serious movie. When they don't take it seriously, it's very, very hard. We now have audiences that don't take movies seriously so it's hard to make a serious movie for them. It's not that us filmmakers are letting you down, it's you audiences are letting us down."
Paul Schrader then went on to talk about the relationship between movies and their audiences in the 1970s. The director/screenwriter notes that the 1970s were a time of social change, which was reflected on the big screen and wanted by audiences. Schrader believes that movies and other forms of art were helping to inform audiences. He had this to say about movies and social change in the 1970s.
"A lot of what was happening in the world had people in consternation: women's rights, gay rights, sexual liberation, drug liberation, anti-war. All of these things were rolling on top of each other and people were turning to the arts, specifically movies, for what we should feel about this?"
Paul Schrader's comments about the current state of filmmaking will certainly cause some arguments. However, the man is open to his own opinion and he makes some good points about social change in the 1970s influencing the art. But, one could argue that exact thing is happening right now. Movies, news, TV, art, and music are all easily available at all times of the day, thanks to technology, which results in the movie theater experience becoming a place to escape the madness of the real-world. You can read the rest of the interview with Paul Schrader over at Deadline.