What makes a good movie

Updated: 2015-06-04 07:57

By Agnes Lu in Hong Kong(HK Edition)

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What makes a good movie

Three-time Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone tells of his defining moments in film production

What makes a good movie that can tempt and hold the audience? The answer came from none other than three-time Oscar-winning Hollywood director Oliver Stone.

Sharing his thoughts with the audience at the World Business Forum in Hong Kong on Wednesday, the US film director said:"Movies are changing all the time. But, I still believe in my heart that if you tell a good story, you'll find the audience. It may not be seen in the best conditions, but it will be seen."

Stone is also a screenwriter, producer and military veteran who had directed many films that have received mixed reviews from critics, including the renowned Platoon that has won him four prizes in the 1987 Academy Awards.

His upcoming film this year, based on the biography of US whistleblower Edward Snowden, who unveiled details of a massive surveillance project orchestrated by the US government, has stirred controversy around the world.

But Stone said he will not be the one to judge.

"Many people don't know the story and that's why it needs to be told. My character in the movie is telling the story from the inside out. When the movie is finished, and when people have reacted on it, that will eventually come to my opinions," he said.

The legendary filmmaker did not win fame overnight. After military service in the Vietnam War and studies at the film school of New York University, he was rejected for years in the film industry before his international appearance in Midnight Express.

Recalling his rebellion and frustration at that time as a young man longing to enter the film industry, Stone considers it natural for youths to have such feelings as long as they stick to what they believe in.

However, it was Platoon that led him to a busy directing career. The semi-autobiography film was the first film of Stone's trilogy of the Vietnam War, based on his combat experience during that period.

"The movies we've been making are always talking about how America saved the world, but the Vietnam War is definitely a losing cause. So I went out there and I made the movie. It may be misunderstood, it may be attacked, but I feel I can sleep at night with my good conscience," he recalled.

The original intention for directing The Wall Street (1987) and its sequel The Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) was out of similar concern for and observation of US society.

"There has always been in America a fight between the capitalists who want free reign and the organizers who demand a more regulated economy," he said.

Filmmaking has its own frustrations as well.

For Stone, the most disappointing part may be the transitory nature of making a film, where the whole crew dismisses after the entire process and the director will be seeing different people each time he initiates a new project.

But Stone said he is proud of himself surviving and having accumulated a body of work. For him, succeeding in one film is already against the odds, but to keep that momentum and have his own portfolio is a growing process.

"I'm not the same person I was when I made Platoon. I'm seeing the world with broader eyes than ever, and my knowledge is deeper," he pondered.

But when questions were raised from the audience on whether the Chinese mainland will surpass the US as the largest box office globally, Stone believes that the situation will not happen for now, and mainland filmmakers should stick to their own inspirations instead of catering to Hollywood tastes.

"English films do have their own advantages because of the language. But Chinese culture has existed way before the American culture," he said. "And, that should always be its strong points to tell good stories."


 What makes a good movie

Oliver Stone (left), prestigious Hollywood director, shares his view on film production to the World Business Forum on Wednesday. He believes that Chinese mainland filmmakers should stick to their own inspirations instead of catering to Hollywood tastes. Photo Provided to China Daily

(HK Edition 06/04/2015 page10)