"Exit through the gift shop", directed by Banksy.

This extraordinary film (among its many other virtues and accomplishments) is a metaphor and a warning to filmmakers: do not attempt to compete with the real life you film. When you do you most likely will become pompous and ridiculous. Know your place!

On the other hand if you choose to switch places and become “the theme” yourself, you may become rich as did Mr. Brainwash. Actually, the warning seems rather a saddening reflection on human nature - as we know from even a casual glance around many a time those on top (in many fields - not only art) are there mostly because they want to be there more than the others, not because of their superior merit. All thanks to the quill-ability of the brainwashed public who doesn’t know shit from Shinola and doesn’t want to strain too much for understanding and self-examining, which as we all know is painful, time consuming and simply damn hard. This biting undertone is very Banksy-ish.

The film is also a very successful exploration of tensions between the narrative as such and its subject. The self-awareness of the filming tool (and I do not mean Mr. Brainwash or his earlier incarnation Mr. Guetta, but the meta narrator calling himself Banksy) allows the narrative to be actually split into two parallel plots: in the first we watch the unfolding of “the real” story of Thierry Guetta, in the second we glimpse into the intentions of Banksy as a storyteller, commentator and our guide to the strange world of his field. Banksy’s choices to come in and out of the film, to switch its path by pushing Guetta to become an artist himself, to frame everything in a strong, focused, first person narrative create a powerful sense of not only intense looking at the portrayed world but also at the tool he uses to portray it with.

It is an insightful look into a pitiful state of ourselves as a consumer culture. Done with sadness, empathy, love and a sense of humor. Bravo.

1 comment: