Movie watching has always been a personal experience. Sure you might go see one with your buddies at home, or with the crowds in a packed theater. And yeah, it starts out as a communal experience. But once the screen flickers to life and you see the first frame, movie watching becomes personal. It’s just going to be an experience between you and the movie. So when we asked ourselves the question: “Why do we love movies?”, thinking of an answer forced us to break down films on a personal level. Yeah, we like movies and we cannot lie.
We can all agree that movies transport us to places we’ve never been and feel sensations we rarely or never will experience in our normality. But there’s more to that, well, at least for me. As I struggle with everyday life; with tiresomely repetitive work, ruthless love woes, exasperating family scuffles, expanding waistline, worsening traffic; I would often need help, as in help in the form of new perspectives. I want to know what other people will do, or have done, when faced with the same dilemmas without having to constantly pester the people around me. As for films that are as far from reality as me becoming Scarlett Johansson, they serve as mediums for me to broaden my imagination and for me to obstinately look deeper and beyond the obvious. There’s a wide spectrum of movies out there to match or alter one’s moods and proclivities at any given moment. The breathtaking backdrops, beautiful people to ogle at, splendid soundtracks are just bonuses; because, really, when a movie is exquisitely written and executed, with the intention to move us and satisfy us, what more can one ask for?
Let me paint you a picture: One hot afternoon weekend, when the parents were out of the house, a curious 14 year-old boy goes into his father’s movie cabinet, took out the copy of Martin Scorsese’s The Departed (2006) (a movie forbidden to him by his father) and proceeded to watch it on the TV. The boy, as all boys are, was curious as to why it was forbidden and thus there was excitement in his eyes as the movie began. What followed next was the reason why the boy became someone who love movies. It was not particularly because of Scorsese’s film about Boston’s gangs and the dark side of the American Dream although the film was magnificent. The boy loved movies from then on because of one thing: discovery. The feeling that the boy got whenever he starts watching a movie, not expecting what will happen in the next few hours. The feeling of conquering a new frontier every time a movie ends. The feeling of special knowledge earned and gained. That is why the boy, now a man, loved movies.
Why do I love movies? Because I’m a nosy bastard. And I find that having only one life sorely limiting to my nosiness. I can only know so much and experience so little in my lifetime. So what do I do? I go to the movies. And for an hour and a half, I get to look in on other people’s lives. I can be a witness to anything and everything. I can be anywhere at any time. And when movies aren’t telling me about other people, they are mirrors telling me about myself. And you know that feeling you get while you’re sitting in the theater or on a couch in your home, just as the end credits are rolling? That feeling that you are never quite the same person as the one you were before the movie started? Like you’ve just been part something greater than yourself? That right there is why I keep coming back to the movies.
Just like the reason why I love reading and travelling, watching movies helps me to collect more information that I could add to my archives. After watching, I find time to read more about the movie, some trivia about the cast or crew, and some background about the storyline or the filming. (Who knows when they might become useful?) Through movies, I gain experiences, go to new places and meet new people. They show me that our world is of infinite variety and complexity. On top of that, movies are mediums for me to experience other people’s stories. They make me understand people better. Their behaviors, feelings and motives. I see through others’ eyes and share their perspectives. I love how I feel that I am involved in a character’s struggle, growth and self-discovery, and then in the joy and satisfaction after a victory. I know, not every movie has a happy ending. But even in failures, there’s always something to learn. Movies made me see more of life’s possibilities. They made me more open-minded. And when I watch alone, or when something still lingers after the closing credits, those are my times for musing and reflection.
The world didn’t stop when I fell in love with the movies. The lines are blurred between a version of myself who simply turned to cinema to pass the time and one who has become constantly fascinated with its potential. How can a two-hour clip manage to tell a story, take you places, show you other people’s truths, disturb you out of your comfort zone, spark the best conversations, and elicit such a wide range of emotions? Like any other art form, the movies allowed me to see the world through other people’s eyes and enabled me to live multiple lives within this one lifetime I’m already privileged to have. This is not to say that I always approve of what I see, but that’s part of its charm: diversity. There is always a take-away, even from the bad ones. I love movies for all these reasons but, most importantly, I love them because they never cease to amaze me. There is always fresh ideas, or a new take on the same subject, or breaking into new frontiers, or the latest technology to bring to life what was only wishful thinking in the past. I believe this is proof to human ingenuity. The world didn’t stop when I fell in love with the movies. Instead, it was a gradual transition from black-and-white to a life in technicolor.
My love for movies is somewhat a gradual process. Movies for me used to be merely for pure entertainment only. I watch movies when I’m whiling away time, when I needed some emotional release. Movies allow me to escape the harsh realities of life. But as I grew older, it transitioned from mindless watching to mindful watching. I started to become aware of how I respond to different characters and scenes and to look at life with a different frame of mind. Movies became for me the window to learn and discover things about myself, to broaden perspective, to see and experience being inside the skin of people who are quite different from my own, to ruminate about things and ideas that I’ve otherwise never thought of or considered greatly. As much as it transports me away from reality, movies become the avenue for me to cope with reality and have a clearer and wider understanding and appreciation for life. And that’s how I’ve come to love movies, folks.
How about you? Why do you love movies?