You know, we all try to find meaning in life. So it is no wonder that I question watching movies and writing about them as a meaningful way to spend my time.
But you know what? It is.
And here is why movies matter.
I wrote about how to "read a film," a couple of years ago. In that post I talked about all of the elements that go into enjoying and understanding films. So that is the first reason why movies matter.
Movies are enjoyable.
Well, most of them are anyway. And that is why we like to go to the movies and watch them at home. For 90 minutes or so, we are transported from our daily cares and stresses and allowed into a world we can only dream of. We can be a soldier in the Civil War ("The Red Badge of Courage") or an adventurer like Indiana Jones or even "The Queen." Woody Allen had fun exploring this issue of living another life through the movies to comic effect in his wonderful film "The Purple Rose of Cairo."
And you know what? It's perfectly OK to take a break from reality and enjoy yourself.
Movies create memories.
In that earlier post, "Reading a Film," I spoke about the bonding time I enjoyed with my Dad watching movies. He was an only child, probably a lonely one, and spent many days and nights at the movies. Later in life, as a Dad, he took me with him to the movies as my Mother was not particularly interested. Likewise, he and I would stay up late on the weekends and watch the late movie that would come on every night at 11:30 (remember those?).
So I have wonderful memories of those nights with my Dad. My Dad was a softie so when there was a particularly sad scene or happy scene, he would chuckle softly and take out his ever present handkerchief and wipe his eyes, but pretend he was wiping his forehead.
I also remember going to see "Gone With the Wind" for the first time with my Mother when I was five. Whatever you may feel about "Gone With The Wind" and its stereotypes, it was a powerful film, especially for a 5-year-old. After seeing that film, I declared I wanted to be an actress, not so much for the "art," but because I wanted to wear Scarlett's clothes (c'mon, I was 5)!
Seeing it again when I was 12, it was more about kissing Clark Gable!
I also remember at that screening when I was 12, sitting in the theatre waiting for the movie to start and reading the last few pages of the 1037 pages of the book.
Movies create bonds.
We all have our favorite films, movies that particularly affected us either through laughter or shared experience. When we love a film, we often want to savor it and share it. Think of "Star Wars" fans who dress up as their favorite characters to see the films or at conventions. People get together to bond over their love of that film. Many a person dressed as Chewbacca has bonded with another dressed as R2D2. And the frenzy for the new film - "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens - set for release this year has only just begun.
My daughter and her husband have a particular affinity for "There Will Be Blood" and love to say the lines to each other in Daniel Plainview's voice, Daniel Day-Lewis' character in the film. It's annoying as hell but they enjoy it and bond over it.
Movies explore the human condition.
I once had an argument of sorts with someone (actually an ex-husband which is probably why he's an ex) who said that reading fiction was a waste of time. I couldn't believe it because I felt I had learned so much about life from reading some of the great novels. Movies are the same. When we go to the movies we can experience lives that are not our own; we can empathize with people going through things we have never gone through. And through that, we become better people when we are more understanding of others.
Movies are cathartic.
Whether it's a two hanky film like "The Notebook" or an inspiring film like "The Theory of Everything," movies make you feel something and allow you to release your emotions. Nothing like a good cry to get the emotional kinks out and refresh you to face another day of life.
I know when I saw my first movies, I was inspired to be an actress and devoted over ten years of my life to that pursuit. Movies show us lives, jobs, and pursuits we could aspire to. They also get us fired up about causes and call us to action. They inspire discussion and controversy, all important in a country that revers free speech. They remind us of some of our dark history and inspire us not to repeat it. They inspire us to overcome adversity. They inspire us to be our best selves.
Movies are meditative.
Since I have retired and decided that I wanted to fulfill my dream of being a movie critic, I have started going back to seeing movies in the theatre.
When movies started coming out on VHS and then DVD and then through all kinds of various media, it seemed there was no real reason to get dressed, comb your hair, and head out into the night to fork over $10-15 to see a movie. Why do that when you can watch in the comfort of your own home?
But now I know the answer.
Because sitting alone in the dark, just you and the flickering screen, is a sort of meditation. It is for me, anyway, literally, especially now that I am retired. When I go during the day, I am often the only one there. For those few hours that I sit in the dark, I am alone with myself and the story.
Which takes me to the reason why you should see a film in the theatre.
It's one of the same reasons why people go to church or join clubs or attend a lecture.
Movies let you tap into the collective consciousness.
You get to be with your fellow humans, all of whom are enjoying the same thing as you. Sitting in a theatre watching a comedy and hearing others laughing is far more fun than sitting at home laughing all by yourself. It reminds you that your fellow humans are just like you...human. And you are a part of that rich fabric (just ignore the kids running up and down the aisles and the person in front of you texting and the kid behind you kicking your seat).
So movies are an important and powerful part of our existence.
I believe I am doing something meaningful and powerful by promoting films.
And if you doubt that power, remember this image - a two-year-old at his first movie.
Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday
See you Friday
for my review of the new movie
"Straight Outta Compton"
The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)
and the latest on
My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
I Die Project."
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