I feel like I’ve posted this before… I rewatched Margot at the Wedding. It really is just fantastic. It is definitely the culmination of all of Noah Baumbach’s past efforts. I often hear the same complaint over and over about the movie (from the people that I make watch it). There was no plot. People loafed around and nothing happened. My argument is that plot is a sufficient but not necessary condition for great art.
Let’s look at film in particular. Off the top of my head there is script, acting, costume design, sound, music, all the aspects of cinematography, editing, directing, symbolism, etc. It is traditional that plot should take precedence, but should we condemn a movie for lacking one (out of hundreds) aspect? Say a movie had a fantastic plot, but was lacking in cinematography. Would the lay audience even notice? I’ll take a film with great cinematography over plot any day.
So we have sort of strayed from the point a little. Art seems to me to be about expressing ideas in an original way (“what is art?” could be a 1000 word post in itself). If you don’t need plot to express your point, then you will be doing it not only in an original way, but in a much purer form. Why use devices that you don’t need, when that could potentially interfere with what you are trying to do? Margot definitely gets its point across.
Let’s tie this back to math (since I have been philosophizing a lot and ignoring math and physics which are supposedly part of this blog). Most arguments against an aesthetic theory for math come from precisely this. Math lacks in some of the traditional parts that art has. Margot is a good example of a great work of art that lacks on purpose. I think that traditionally math cannot be considered art, but under modern considerations (i.e. my definition) math is just a pure form of art in which ideas are expressed in an original way.
There probably isn’t anything new in this, but seeing that again reminded me of all the arguments about the necessity of plot that I’ve had.