Movies. Why do we watch movies? Why do YOU watch movies?
Is it because a new film just got released, and you don’t want to feel left out by the world? (Like… Oh. My. Gosh. You haven’t watched that yet? Are you serious? Where have you been living? Under the rock? No, seriously.)
Or, is it because the story on the trailer sounds too good to be true, and you need to watch it just to agree or disagree with that first impression? (No way, no cold-hearted supervillain can ever learn to be kind and generous just because of an adorable young girl. That’s just absurd. There’s no way that that’s the way the story ends. Must watch this.)
Or, maybe because your favorite actor or actress is the star of the show? Nothing sounds like a full support than taking the time to watch their craft unfold on the big screen, right? Either that, or you just want to see Ryan Gosling’s abs or Scarlett Johansson’s curves. (Damn that body.)
Or, is it because the air conditioner there feels nice and you’ve got nothing else better to do for the day?
At the deeper level of our consciousness, however, we won’t entirely agree that we watch movies merely for entertainment purposes. Rather, it seems logical to say that we watch movies because these allow us to temporarily escape our problems, our fears – our real worlds. These allow us to take a step back and pretend that we are the spectators, rather than the subjects, of our reality (which, of course, isn’t the case).
But, what movies do really is that they allow us to stand back a bit and look at our reality from a different lens – from the lens of fantasy, from the lens of science fiction, from the lens of animation – but at the same reality nonetheless. No matter how farfetched the story is or how imaginative the setting is, there is undoubtedly a grain of real life that can be extracted from it. Something about the even highly impossible scenes seems familiar and feels familiar. Something about the movie seems like a retelling of something we’ve seen and felt before. Something in the movie just makes us relate. Somehow, there is that invisible connection that we seem not to notice, unless you have a sociologist’s instinct, I guess.
Oftentimes, that connection between movies and real life stays hidden throughout the entire time that we are watching the film. That doesn’t mean that we are dumb enough not to see the common themes though. It’s nothing but normal to make the miss. We’re probably too stressed or the film’s characters are too distracting (I’m looking at you, Angelina Jolie’s cheekbones). There are a number of reasons, and they are all acceptable.
But, sometimes, an exceptional instance of being able to catch a glimpse of that connection happens. Suddenly, you see it – and can no longer “unsee” it. In that one instant, the silver screen becomes a mirror, reflecting both the beautiful and the hideous images of reality. Suddenly, the fictitious world becomes our real world, filled with both virtues and vices of people both strong and weak. The vulnerability of the characters, the fears of the common people, the roots of wars, the rage of the enemies, the back story of the villain, the conflicts – suddenly, they all seem to hit too close to home. We see that they’re set merely in a different era within a different world portraying different characters, but the challenges faced and the lives lead are similar to our own. Such a connection is one small moment that brings us a sense of realization that hopefully allows us to become more sensitive and understanding of our real world and to become more vigilant and responsive to the things that happen around us. Hopefully, it leads us to become more reflective of ourselves as well, in our attempts to become better citizens of the world. The established link, hopefully, can serve as an opportunity for us to regain a more insightful, if not fresher, perspective of the reality we live in and to (re)develop personal characteristics that make us more equipped for the world that we would return to after the credits have rolled.
Like Frodo and Aragorn (of The Lord of the Rings trilogy), we come to understand how much we can learn to control our desires (temptations) to take that One Ring. Like Maleficent in the 2014 live action version, we learn that we can be capable of being loving again despite years of being blinded by hatred and revenge. Like Neville Longbottom (of the Harry Potter series), we see that courage can be learned and can be used to help others beat the monsters of our world. Like The Hunger Games series, we come to realize once again that our world really is just a huge battlefield, each person desperate for his/her own survival, and the limits of our humanity are tested against our need to survive – up to what extent will one be humane if his/her survival is on the line?
They say that art is an imitation of real life, and movies are the best examples. And it seems that we can learn – and re-learn – a thing or two about our own reality from these. After all, this reality that we live in is just one lengthy film.
And when you see that link between fantasy and reality, be grateful and immerse yourself in that opportunity because once you step outside the cinemas, reality will once again overwhelm you that it might be difficult to find a chance to reflect on it.
Which movies have made you reflect? What are some that you have learned and/or come to realize in these films?