The Compulsion to Clap

Last night, I went to Jonathan Demme’s new film, Neil Young: Heart of Gold. Though typically I’m uninterested cinematically in concert films, I was in awe of this film’s ability — at least with the audience that joined me in the theater — to break the fourth wall. Yes, people all around me felt compelled to clap at the end of each song! The film’s cutting aided in the illusion by placing the film theater audience in a sometimes perspectivally impossible yet decidedly positively aligned position with the Ryman Auditorium audience within the film. Indeed, even in the few shots from upstage cameras, though we can see the silhouettes of a few audience members against the stained-glass windows at the back of the theater, they are in total darkness and therefore don’t break the simulacral auditorium that we as film goers have been forced into by Demme. Furthermore, the camera that leads us into the auditorium then sits in the orchestra seating, a fact of which we are reminded when someone in front of “us” rises for a standing ovation.
I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed that this was not a documentary (a fact I did not know going into the theater). However, had the film cut back and forth from concert to interviews, I don’t think the compulsion to clap would have existed as it did. So for that, I suppose I am satisfied.

One thought on “The Compulsion to Clap

  1. and when Neil’s face was 10 feet tall (clearly i am not so cinematically inclined to know the typical height of a theatre screen nor bored enough to google it), i imagined that i was drooling on his guitar. oh, wait… thats right… I fell asleep through a bit of it, dreamt that i was that close and suffering through a cold, woke up with both mucus and drool on myself. A.

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