Experience film the right way

Do not underestimate the power of film and its grasp on the human condition

I recently had the chance to go watch It and wow, not what I expected at all. Watching the film sparked a discussion with my friends about the importance of great films like It.

A film/movie is something much more than a piece of entertainment. To me, it isn’t a mode of escape, nor is watching a film something that you do just to pass some time.

A film is a piece of work that gives you a window into the world of human life.

A film takes you in and shows you human life in a very different form. You become a part of a narrative that explores an abundance of emotions. If you really think about a film, it rarely shows you every mundane thing us as humans do as we live our lives. A film takes the most important moments of a life and pieces it together to create a story.

This is almost exactly how our minds think. When we recall various memories, we visualize the most important moments, rather than every little aspect of the memory. We create mini movies in our minds.

Each time you watch the story on the screen, you become aware of various nuances that either ruin the film or enhance it.

Why is it important then that we stop viewing films as pieces of entertainment and instead as visualizations of human life? Well, because without films, we don’t understand ourselves—we don’t understand what our emotions and actions can and will mean to ourselves.

Human life is blown up in a film to show you fragments of time in an effort to draw you into the life of another human, being, thing, etc. so that you can be a part of their experience. When you go to watch a film, you’re not escaping from anything. How can you escape from yourself only to watch the troubles and conflicts of those on screen within a narrative? You’re connecting your experiences to what’s on screen, or you’re learning from the experiences on screen to deal with your own. While watching a film, you become a part of a narrative—you focus on understanding and solving the problems with the characters on the screen, while eagerly awaiting their actions.

An action film will take you into a world of sequences that happen rapidly and keep you on your feet. An emotional film will force you to become a part of the characters and identify with them to feel for them and be just as emotional as they are. The magic of film brings you closer to the world on the screen. As you’re drawn in, you begin to analyze the human condition from the perspective of yourself.

Think about a film that you loved. A film that forced you to leave the theatre and engage in a heavy discussion about what you had just seen. Did you cry at the end when the character died? Laugh when the character made a joke? Did that film push you to ask questions and beg for answers? Google explanations about the film? Did the film move you?

Such a film pushes you to go through a process of self-reflection and trying to understand the film from your experiences.

Now we forget, a lot of the films we see were built and created from the start with a pen and paper. The writer of these films and screenplays took a story and created the characters within the story. Essentially, they’re molding and creating humans that will allow for the story to progress. They want to create characters that you’ll like and dislike, and all of it is for you, the viewer.

To me, that’s insane. There are people creating and visualizing stories, and it all begins with an idea. It goes from an idea, to multiple years of production of a piece of work that’ll teach, excite, scare, and induce tears. A film pushes you to learn and understand yourself from these experiences of characters created by other people.

This applies to any genre or any film. When a film is created, the ultimate goal is always to create a narrative that has characters who perform actions for very specific reasons. From there, you as the viewer assess whether or not their actions are ones you agree with. These actions are molded by directors and writers, and in order to mold them, you have to really think about why the action would happen. What pushed these characters to bring themselves to this point in the story?

All of this for you to watch, enjoy, and learn what it means to act in a certain way. We have all made references to films in our lives, and even thought to ourselves of moments in our lives that we wish could have been molded differently. Or we reimagine our lives in certain ways to satisfy ourselves. We also imagine what could happen, and what we believe would be the perfect way for situations to happen.

An example that you can all probably attest to is understanding your future and trying to figure it out. We all create the perfect situation of what we believe in our minds would constitute the ideal life. You continuously run this imagery in your mind in hopes that you’ll one day be there. Just by doing this, you’re creating a mini movie of your future. You’re creating a narrative that you hope your experiences will hopefully mold, experiences that will lead to the happy ending we all want, but never get.

Filmmaking and storytelling is such an important part of our lives that we forget what we’d do without it. From practicing a religion to reading a book to watching a movie, we’re either reading, listening, watching, or telling a story of some sort, all the time. Watching a film clarifies the way in which your own life is a story. You become aware of actions and behaviours and you begin to imagine yourself in those situations. You identify with the characters or you don’t, and you become aware of who you are through the films you watch, not just by yourself, but with others.

Which brings me to my next point, the theatre.

You don’t have to go to the theatre anymore when you have access to streaming services like Netflix, the ability to torrent movies from The Pirate Bay, or the patience to wait until movies become available on Blu-Ray, right? The movie theater is just somewhere you go every so often correct?

I completely disagree. Viewing a film from the comfort of your own home by yourself, under your blanket, with a bowl of chips is not how a movie is meant to be watched. One of my cinema professors once taught me that going to watch a film is a collective action. You go, sit with a group of strangers, and you become one and bond over one thing, the film. You laugh, cry, smile, be afraid, and scream together. People you’ve never met will go through these emotions with you. A film can bring people together and bring change in a person’s heart or mind. And all of this can only be done while viewing a film in a theatre.

To become one with the audience members, you all need to watch it on a screen as large as the ones in the theatre.

Take the movie It for example. If I watched that at home, where I could pause and play it, this would have resulted in a terrible movie watching experience. You draw yourself out of the narrative when you do that. In a theatre, you’re forced to sit and experience the entirety of the film with no phones, no pausing and playing, and no distractions. Watching It in the theatre allowed me to fully experience the terrifying, horrific, and downright monstrous wrath of Pennywise the dancing clown and feel my fears grow as the narrative progressed.

It comes down to understanding that watching a movie in a theatre means you’re ready to enjoy every minute. Not because you paid for it, but because a theater brings people together when they’re separated, and makes them feel emotions all together when they’ve felt none before.

I don’t want to tell you that you have to view films exactly how I do. However, I want you to understand  how the power of film and the magic of movies come to fruition.

Film is important because it helps us define ourselves and gives us a glimpse into the human condition.

This, my friends, is why films aren’t merely escapes or pure entertainment.

A film will tell the world a story, and with that story is the power to change the world, or maybe just a single person’s world.

 

YOURS,
MAHMOUD SAROUJI