On movies

August 3, 2014

What might one to say here? Perhaps a few pithy comments that simplifies the unsimple. Perhaps a deep analysis, as confusing as it is revealing, a Salome's dance of glimpses, color and a flash of thigh.

Like many of the Abstract Nouns, the main point is that we cannot talk about film. Although this is not at all obvious to us, as we have been talking about film all our lives. We can do it without thinking.

Thinking about the physics of it all, you would think that people would have to be trained to see a movie. But that is hardly the case.

And we make sense of the editing and intercutting of movies with barely any study. Although how we do this remains a minor mystery. In our inner movies [this is a metaphor, and an extension of the word "movie"] we have pans and we have cerebral zooms, but not cuts, and multiple POVs.

What we see in movies is not what is happening in the physical world. We think we see people moving and doing things in time, but the reality is that a series of still images are being projected in front of our eyes. There is no movement at all—except in our experiences. There are no people, just pictures of people. Often pictures of people pretending to be another person or being.

Yet movies are some of the easiest of things to watch. We certainly don't need to say anything. And if pressed we barely know what to say.

But here we can assume something so universal has a large overlapping sets of appeals, working multiple processes simultaneously.

But even as adults, what is it when we enjoy about a movie we enjoy?

  • the magic (the virtual people)
  • the pretty people
  • the big people
  • the sex and the violence. (We love to see people naked. We like to see people get killed—and things being exploding.) (We will pay good money to watch people's heads blown off their necks.)
  • the danger from the safety of a comfortable movie seat
  • the heroes and heroines
  • recognizing the actors
  • Human love "safe danger": they seek it out in entertainment, movies, video games, thrill rides. Being invulnerable is also a common aspect of our gods.
  • We can go with the theory that most movies don't actually say anything. We just like to look at moving pictures.
  • The predictability of movies; we replay well-known narratives.
  • Films are perceived to be easier than reading. [Comedian Jim Gaffigan: [you hear people say:] "I just prefer reading." — Have you watched television? It's way better. There's pictures, there's sound, and most importantly — no reading!]
  • Films are also immune from an educated attitude that one should be able to say something ninteresting. It is by nature a relaxing medium. And there have to be many reasons for this.

The challenging things about recent media is that our traditional moral texts do not warn us against them. We do not adopt a watchful attitude. We do not see them as temptations. (Perhaps even God has a hard time talking about media.)

I think it would be good to think of film as experience: A movie is also, one can say, the experiences we are having while we are watching a movie. Notice that this is an extension of the the word movie; we are moving towards a different way of looking at (thinking about) movies.

This is also how we can talk about books. And this is a recognized way of talking about a trip to Italy:
"I went to Italy last summer."
"How was it?"
"I liked it"
"Yes. I was there three years ago. Isn't it great?"
"Yes! I loved it."

Nothing has been said in this conversation, yet a bond has been created. Both parties are probably thinking of their time in Italy (which was only a short amount of time in a very small part of Italy), and are having pleasant remembrances, both factual and emotional.

We have no simple way of talking about our experiences. We "like" them or not. We know when we are bored. We recognize the actors and remember other movies they have been in.

To think and speak about films in this way requires a development of the meta-parts of our awarenesses. But this is not necessary to enjoy a film. Let us think about what we can say about "movies" or "films?" At the end of our discussion, what do you want to carry away from talking about movies in general? What can you carry away?

  • We really do not know what we are talking about when we talk about movies.
  • We need a new way of thinking about movies
  • We have just begun to think about movies
  • Next time distance yourself.
  • Why do you want to watch this? Think of as many reasons as possible.


   We hardly know why we like anything. We cannot say why we like the music, clothes, television shows, movies, and makeup we like. (Why is that? We don't know that either.)

   What the fuck is a movie?


Why do actors get the primary credits in movies? Isn't this like giving airline stewardesses primary credit for a transoceanic flight?

Movies are not an education. Movies are an experience.

There are also those people who don't have the intelligence to get confused by the realities we see in movies and the realities we see in life.

Movies are mostly high-quality stupidity.

Before movies and television, how did stupid people waste their time?

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