Many people think they have a preference for Realism. They don’t.
From Wikipedia: “In the interview compilation book Directing the Film (Acrobat Books), Mamoulian declared a strong preference for a stylized look to his scenes, stating that he was more interested in creating a poetic look to his films than in showing ordinary realism. Parts of Becky Sharp, and almost the whole of Blood and Sand, with their heightened and artificial use of Technicolor, demonstrate what Mamoulian meant by this.”
Contrasting a film like DeSica’s classic The Bicycle Thief with Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line demonstrates our preference for lyric, poetic, if somewhat dystopian filmmaking. Call it ‘reality-lite.’ We grate at productions that feel too much like normal life. Although modern life is often featured in the few movies left not based on comic franchises, we want to be entertained, and actually forget about our day-to-day reality: the simple fact is, movies like The Bicycle Thief can’t get made today, although Europeans feel a certain reverence for it and movies like Kassovitz’s Le Haine (The Hate) that are difficult to watch. It’s like a civic duty. No such culture exist in the US.
Yet the Ancient Greeks would be proud. Aeschylus and his bunch of playwright misfits shocked polite society by actually presenting dialogue between actors on stage, and not just a bard reciting epic, lyric, or elegiac poetry (a big deal back then). While we might find the heavy inclusion of the gods off-putting today, we haven’t strayed far from their desire (and success) in creating productions with a heightened sense of reality, of making the prosaic and mundane a little bolder, crisper and more palatable.
So we dial up the craftsmanship of filmmaking– creating work that’s visually appealing, at times beautiful; and designing stories that feel real enough upon viewing, but belie a subtle yet comprehensive architecture. All elicited to make the picture mean something to you, the viewer.