Songs of Innocence and Experience

William Blake hit on something very true to me about the art of filmmaking, and he did so with the title of one of his works: Songs of Innocence and Experience. I feel that, for films and their filmmakers, there are songs of innocence and songs of experience. Songs of innocence are the films, most often by young filmmakers, that are infused with a volatile enthusiasm for the limitlessness of the film form. A song of innocence is the work of a filmmaker with such inimitably youthful and wondrously impetuous vitality, so much so that the creator has somehow managed to convince him/herself that the film is going to accomplish something -- anything -- with a rookie film that has never been done before in the history of the medium, no matter the modesty or limited ambitions of the given project. This is a welcome objective that, if executed right, emerges in the best of ways in the work itself, and should ultimately transcend one's ego. Conversely, a song of experience is the work of a filmmaker who, with years of work and evolution, has attained a pronounced degree of confidence and polish -- and feels that, to some degree, he/she has mastered most of the tools of filmmaking from film to film, using the equipage and personnage with a definite level of comfort and voice. While this latter state of being is rather enviable, the filmmaker who has achieved making a song of experience typically is subject to losing or dulling that original youthful vitality that marked a song of innocence, exchanging the zesty lifeforce inherent to a song of innocence for the acquisition of confidence, polish and comfort inherent to a song of experience. A film that is a masterpiece is a rhapsody of the two songs -- simultaneously a song of innocence and a song of experience, with both melodies in total harmony with each other, with the collective effort creating the most driving rhythm one could ever imagine.

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