VWith violence playing a major role in cinema in recent years, Paurush Kumar ponders whether we should let it slide, or see it as a major problem.

These days, it seems like every second film being released is bursting with violence. With fresh news articles popping up everyday about shootings and bombings, cinema has become obsessed with incorporating elements of the dark side of life. Films feel they need to depict violence with sensational and explicit appeal. The genre such movies primarily cater to is the ‘cop-gangster drama’ which follows a particular formula. Recently, actor Jim Carrey dissociated himself from the movie Kick Ass 2, a movie he starred in, because of the high amount of explicit violence it contained. Perhaps one of the main reasons for violence in films is because audiences nowadays have become more inclined to watch action and killing sequences because they are now termed as ‘entertainment’. Apart from this, the loud background score that such movies offer generally go on to impact the minds of the viewer because of the kind of entreating shock such scenes have to offer.

“Perhaps one of the main reasons for violence in films is because audiences nowadays have become more inclined to watch action and killing sequences because they are now termed as ‘entertainment.”

One of the greatest filmmakers of all time, Quentin Tarantino, may have made films that have attained ‘cult’ status over the years. He has been a prominent icon known for depicting on-screen violence in perhaps almost every scene of his films and surprisingly, he himself is not a big a fan of violence. He was once asked about this in an interview with The Atlantic, to which he replied, “violence is just one of many things you can do in movies. People ask me, ‘Where does all this violence come from in your movies?’ I say, ‘Where does all this dancing come from in Stanley Donen movies?’ If you ask me how I feel about violence in real life, well, I have a lot of feelings about it. It’s one of the worst aspects of America. In movies, violence is cool. I like it.”  Tarantino’s films are known because of his ability to blend traumatic and violent scenes with comedy sequences as in some of his works like Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs etc. Tarantino’s combination of comedy and violence make his films an easier viewing experience and add to the entertaining appeal of his films, making his work some of the prime examples of violence in cinema.  

Apart from Tarantino, the iconic director Alfred Hitchcock has also been known for his violent scenes in his voyeuristic suspense films. The brutal shower sequence in Psycho (1960), the attempted murder in Dial M for Murder (1954) or the bread knife sequence in Blackmail (1929) are very uncomfortable as well as shocking from a film-goer’s perspective. Specifically, in Dial M for Murder, the decent suspense thriller was going well until the brutal killing sequence came up and the entire atmosphere of suspense created by it was all gone and could not be further worked upon, as the audience lost interest in watching the film. Apart from the brutal killing scenes in his movies, Hitchcock is more widely criticized for the sexual intimacy his films offer.

“Tarantino’s combination of comedy and violence make his films an easier viewing experience and add to the entertaining appeal of his films, making his work some of the prime examples of violence in cinema.”

One such director whose violence has been criticized is the Indian film director Anurag Kashyap. Even though his films are usually raw and rustic, they are widely criticised for the brutality his action sequences have to offer whilst progressing the story forward. The violence in his movies like Gangs of Wasseypur-Part 1&2 (2012) are testament enough that the kind of violence he has to offer is quite similar to that of Tarantino’s style of execution. But the difference is that he dwells on his violence sequences with extreme melodrama which makes the viewer highly uncomfortable during the cinematic viewing. The background score also adds to the eeriness of his movies.

Violence in films has a potentially negative effect on society. The negativity, the sadness, the gunshots, knife stab sequences and blood visuals usually leave the audience shaken and frightened and may have a long-lasting effect on our minds, therefore making their cinematic experience extremely unsettling.  This kind of violence in films may have an effect on the minds of the people and it is high time that we as a society stop promoting violence in cinema as ‘entertaining’.