“The sultry smoker lighting up on a Parisian café terrace, a staple image for countless French films could soon be a thing of the past if Agnès Buzyn, the country’s health minister goes ahead with plans to ban smoking in movies,” says Rory Mulholland of the Telegraph.
As an avid writer, screenwriter and overall fan of a tantalizing story, there’s a part of me that is at odds with the idea of banning smoking, a very real aspect of life, from French films.
(If only you could see the bemused expression creased across my face.)
It’s no secret that the thin cylinder of finely cut tobacco rolled in paper is still a very real, very natural part of many people’s lives, despite the well-known negative effects it has on one’s health. But to ban cigarettes from film in an effort to drive home an undoubtedly important message that smoking kills is an angle that I feel has the potential to cause more harm than good… creatively speaking.
Film is all about telling a dramatic story, be it based on true or fabricated events. Through the use of moving images, it is a filmmakers’ job, duty moreover, to tell the most convincing story he or she can. Storytelling is an art. A creative way of expression. To limit what can and can’t be expressed visually is troublesome to me.
For example, let’s say there is a film and the protagonist is a mother, deeply troubled over her son’s sudden death and uses cigarettes to cope. Is showing this mother’s smoking habit in any way persuading the viewer to take up cigarettes? I, myself don’t feel that it is. The mother is in pain. And life is real. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is probably the furthest thought from her mind. In order to drive home this realistic depiction of her suffering, it’s necessary to show a character treating their body with a lack of regard for health.
The tools available to an artist should never be rationed.
With that being said, I do get it. I completely understand that we are dealing with traditional tobacco cigarettes which contain over 4,000 carcinogens. Smoking is a very serious issue and is not to be taken lightly. Cigarettes continue to kill around 75,000 people every year in France and 6 million people worldwide. It makes sense, given the lack of success with major anti-smoking advertising campaigns, that the French Ministry of Health would consider other options to curb the use of cigarettes. I just feel that this bridge should not be crossed, as there are other ways to dissuade cigarette use.
Read the original article here.
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