Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Why I Love Movies

Anyone who knows me knows that I love movies. They also know that it’s not just escapist fare or a good way to pass a couple of hours. I really love movies. Today, I re-watched a movie that is a treasure for me. It’s a unique romantic comedy called, “Boys & Girls” starring Claire Forlani and Freddie Prinze Jr. Aside from the quirky sense of humor and the non-saccharine approach to relationships, this movie represents a unique milestone for me. It was during this film that I realized the first step in my process of watching movies.

I’ve always said I watch movies differently than other people. “Boys & Girls” actually allowed me to see exactly how that starts. In a dance scene in the middle of the film, the director tries every trick in the book to make sure you’re focused on Claire Forlani. The point of interest is on her, she’s the only one in an all white costume, the camera zooms around always pointing at her, but despite all this, I am caught up in the different elements on the screen: the other dancers, the lighting, the music, etc. From there, I start to go beyond what is on the screen to the heart of what the movie is trying to convey. The process I go through is not really important, but what is important is that remembering how I felt that day reminded me of why I love movies so much.

Movies are unlike any other media experience for me. When done properly, movies can convey much more information in mere seconds than any other medium. There’s the technical side: angles, timing, film stock, lighting, costume materials, actors; all of which contain a powerful means of telling stories, adding emotional weight to seemingly bland material or giving massive scope to what is, in reality, small & seemingly insignificant. Think about it, the bulk of the human brain is given over to processing VISUAL information! And movies can take full advantage of that!

Then there’s the stories told! From intense character studies to epic mythology, all is fair game in cinema, with subtle visual cues adding volumes of meaning to words that mere ink on a page or pixels on a screen could never accomplish on their own.

Hell, even done improperly, there is much to gain. An understanding of how the story could have been told more effectively, or how the visuals could have been utilized to greater effect, etc.

And then there’s actually watching the movies and experiencing the rise and fall of emotions with the characters you’re watching. Feeling the torment of a mother distraught over losing her child, or the anguish of a young lover being denied by the object of his affection. Relishing in the delicious revenge of victim righting a wrong, or reveling in the rush of a hero in the midst of battle. Sharing these moments with the characters on the screen and with the others in the audience is an amazing journey. Not to mention spending time with friends afterwards going over the favorite moments of the movie or hotly debating subtle points of logic brought about by the story being told!

As a bonus, you can always go back to your favorite worlds and stories and watch them come to life as many times as you wish seeing something new or gaining some new insight every time!

Movies are amazing. A form of art that I am glad humanity created and no matter where I am in life, I will always feel that tiny spark of excitement every time I watch a movie.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I'm always amazed by the passivity in which most people approach movies. When I go to an actual theater, I'm keyed in as much to the audience's reaction around me as I am to what's going on up on the screen. And, judging from the response (or lack thereof) to certain pivotal scenes, I notice very often just how casual the average moviegoer is compared to myself.

    For me, like yourself, watching movies is an *active* interaction. The multi-layered facets that go into a properly engaging film is a true artform -- one that benefits from closer attention to detail. Even a "dumb" movie like, say, Transformers 2 benefits from a more discerning eye by the viewer into the intentions of the director and the experience he's wishing to convey to his audience.

    This is why movies can be so rewarding, if you know what to look for.