Movie director Christophe Gans, the man behind the forthcoming big screen adaptation of Silent Hill, has joined in the debate over whether games are art - and he's got a rather strong message for Roger Ebert.
Last November, the well-known film critic published a column arguing that videogames are "inherently inferior to film and literature" - something which Gans vehemently disagrees with.
"F*** him," Gans told US magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly, adding that Ebert will "realise that he is wrong on his deathbed."
"Most people who despise a new medium are simply afraid to die, so they express their arrogance and fear like this... Human beings are stupid, and we often become assholes when we get old," Gans continued.
"Each time some new medium appears, I feel that it's important to respect it, even if it appears primitive or naive at first, simply because some people are finding important things in it. If you have one guy in the world who thinks that Silent Hill or Zelda is a beautiful, poetic work, then that game means something. Art only exists in the eye of the beholder.
"Most of the people have a very caricatured vision of videogamers, and actually, gamers are very intelligent. Games are a form of art. I realized that when I played through Silent Hill," Gans said, adding that he's also a big fan of Miyamoto - "Playing through the Legend of Zelda, for example, was a beautiful, poetic moment."
Part of the problem, according to Gans, is that poor videogame movies give games a bad name. "I feel that it's extremely stupid for films like Doom to come out and reflect poorly on games," he said.
"Personally, I love Doom the game - it was not only about killing creatures, but it was also about the landscape and atmosphere, to be alone in this huge, scary place - to have all these deadly creatures all around. Then to see this guy saying these stupid one-liners in this boring corridors without windows... Where is Doom?
"I'm sorry, guys, but Doom is not all about running around corridors shooting at f***ing zombies. Doom could be, for some people, a poetic experience. Close to the level of Lovecraft. Where is that? We have to treat these games with respect, and that is important."
Naturally, Gans said, he's been treating Silent Hill with the utmost respect when it comes to the film adaptation - but it hasn't been an easy process. "It's the most complicated game to adapt... It was impossible for me to do Silent Hill and not be serious about it.
"I say this humbly, as I'm not the creator, but I think that the world of Silent Hill is unique, and that it has no equivalent in cinema. The horror is no longer confined to a space like a room or a house, but rather opened up into a whole town that exists in different dimensions. That, for me, is what games can bring to cinema: new perspective, new dimension, and a break from the idea that stories can be told in a line."
So if the movie is a hit, would Gans be happy to direct a sequel? "Of course, I would love to come back... I think that it would be very possible to do a sequel to this film.
"Silent Hill is a complete mythology, and I did what I could in 2 hours, but I would love to tell much more."
Silent Hill is out in the US on April 21st, with a European release likely to follow this summer. You can read the full EGM interview over at 1UP.
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