Friday, January 10, 2014

What Is It About Movies?

What is it about the movies that can bring me to tears … or laughter … or the edge of my seat?

Obviously, I can’t speak for anyone else … but for me, movies are a very visceral experience.

Case in Point:

I just finished watching The Hurricane starring Denzel Washington. If you don't know the story it's the true story of Rubin "The Hurricane" Carter who was wrongfully convicted of the murder of three people in Paterson, N.J. (which  just happens to be the town where I was born)
in 1967 and retried in 1976. He spent 18 years in prison. 

I had seen the movie before … I knew how it ended … and yet when the judge issued his opinion and announced Rubin’s release … the entire courtroom exploded and I felt a rush of energy down my arms and tears came to my eyes!
Denzel Washington as Rubin Carter moments before judge issued opinion
To me, movies are the single most powerful way to convey emotions and produce an emotional response in the viewer … much more so than any of the other creative arts. While I’ve never been there … I can imagine seeing Michelangelo’s’ frescos as a moving experience … and music can certainly evoke emotions but I can’t imagine anyone laughing or crying while listening to a symphony or visiting the Sistine Chapel.

Movies on the other hand seem to be for the specific purpose of causing a visceral response in the audience. The darkness of the movie theater … the huge screen … being engulfed in sound … are all designed with the singular purpose of touching something deep within the viewer.

Having said that, it's interesting to me that it can even happen when watching movies at home … without the darkness, screen or surround sound … that’s how powerful a movie can be. I’ve watched tons of interviews of directors, producers and actors and it seems that ultimately that is their primary intent.

The Hurricane
is a great example of determination, tenacity, conviction, faith … but more than that the indomitability of the human spirit and the power of love.

Maybe that’s the answer … maybe when a film is crafted in such a way that even though it is basically an electronic signal traveling across time and space … if a story or an idea can touch the heart … it can't help but create an emotional response.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

A new movie theater just opened a few blocks away from our house, walking distance. On Saturday and Sunday mornings they show classic films. Last week we saw Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" and tomorrow we will see "Rear Window". Upcoming on the schedule is "All About Eve" and "The Philadelphia Story." We love seeing these old films on the big screen. The Hitchcock films, in particular, are so lovingly photographed. It's like watching a moving oil painting.

Susan Schanerman said...

I really like that line "It's like watching a moving oil painting." Thanks so much for commenting on the post!!