What are some essential art house films

The mainstream of art house film

Where does the art house film come from? How do we define the term? And what does it mean for the future of cinema?

Arthouse dates from a time when the big Hollywood studios dominated the cinema. Small arthouse cinemas, so-called art houses, set up a different program as an alternative to the mainstream at the time. It mainly consisted of:

  • European cinema
  • Independent films
  • Old film classics

So the essence of art house film is to be different from the mainstream. So it has always been a reservoir for many different currents. A non-linear narrative, for example, or a very idiosyncratic style. These include such well-known films as CITIZEN KANE, RASHOMON, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, ARRIVAL, DONNIE DARKO, L.A. CRASH or MEMENTO.

In the meantime, however, arthouse has long since made its way into mainstream film. That means there is one now Mainstream of art house film, which consists of the lowest common denominator. With this one can speak of a genre. In essence, it revolves around a main character who failed because of the world. Films like IXCANUL, SHAME, LOUDER THAN BOMBS, TONI ERDMANN and EMPTY are represented.

Subgenres of art house film

The Mainstream art house or art house mainstream has a few sub-genres, the best known is probably the Mumblecore be. Here we see a belated coming-of-age story. The focus is often on a man in his mid-thirties who has to emancipate himself from his childish values. Most of the time it's just a so-called slice of life with an open end - one of the reasons for this is that these films are autobiographically inspired by the life of their writer-directors, who have captured an aspect of their everyday life on the screen.

The art house film was wonderfully parodied by the Simpsons with a short film by and about the alcoholic Barney Gumble.

Arthouse film clichés

As in every genre, there are common clichés in arthouse film that need to be overturned in an original story. Here are four that come up the most:

  1. The film begins with a thought-provoking quote.
    Often times it has little to do with the plot and is just from someone known to you.
  2. The main character stares into space, mostly out of the window.
    Often she smokes and / or drinks alcohol.
  3. The main character lies on his side but cannot sleep and stares into space. Either with snoring people in the background (for comedies) or alone.
  4. The main character walks through a lonely area and we follow the back of her head for minutes.

Important tip for writing art house films: If you want to write in this genre, autobiographical topics are definitely obvious. In the best case, you have already overcome the corresponding problem in your life - because this is the only way to give the film a convincing ending and write a well-rounded story.