Wednesday, March 28, 2012

High Octane: An Interview With Author and Action Film Expert Eric Lichtenfeld

Action is a vital ingredient to today’s Blockbusters.  It’s a universal language that crosses all cultural boundaries.  People all over the world love to watch fistfights, car chases, and shootouts.  Unfortunately, such things often come at the expense of character and story, which is why genre has been largely dismissed by critics and cineastes in the past.  Over the last decade or so, that perception has been slowly changing. A handful of well-made actioners have shown critics just what the genre is capable of in the right hands.  In addition, a few historians have been proactive about pointing out the genres merits to their peers.

Photo by Juliet Turback
One such fellow is Eric Lichtenfeld.  He is the author of ‘Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie.’  It is one of the few, if not the only, scholarly tomes ever written about the genre.  It isn’t simply an extended list of its high points, but a true reference guide.  It identifies and examines the underlying themes common to most action pictures.  It also puts things into historical perspective.  Being the action junkie that I am, I sought out Mr. Lichtenfeld so I could pick his brain a bit.  I ended up getting much more than I’d bargained for, as he proceeded to school me on my beloved genre.