REASON NUMBER THREE OF FOUR
Another reason movies are fascinating and why you should watch them is that they compress experience into condensed versions of that REAL life to which my husband alluded in the previous posts. In a well made movie nothing happens except that which forwards the vision/theme/goal of the film. One of the basics of screenwriting is: if it does not forward the motion of the plot then, even if it is a really good scene, cut it. It's called "killing your darlings". A painful but necessary process. If you have a story about a baseball pitcher, then having a long interlude on how his wife reconfigured the family recipe for orange muffins may not be in the best interest of the story, no matter how cute or well written. You want to stick to the thread of your idea and not wander too far off the trail that will get you from Point A to Point B. Films are not the lengths of real lives (though I have sat through some that were so dull they SEEMED to be closing in on that long). They are, by and large, a maximum of 120 minutes. So getting to and staying ON topic is pretty essential to good story telling. As a result, often what you see is fairly intense – intensely felt love affairs, exciting car chases, pivotal incidents in an otherwise mundane person's life, watershed moments, historic turning points. The rest is left on the cutting room floor. What you see in REEL life is a purer, or at least concentrated, experience than what you would normally have in REAL life.
REASON NUMBER FOUR OF FOUR
Another reason I find movies worth the time is that watching a protagonist or antagonist face a decision gives you an opportunity to test your own mettle – what would you do in that situation? Of course, you do not personally have the vested interest of stepping into a boxing ring, or racing from an exploding volcano. But if the film maker has any skill at all and you are the least bit cooperative in the effort, he will help you become emotionally invested in the scenario: Will the guy admit to the girl he loves that he is the biological father to over 500 children? Will the Olympic champion have the moral courage to refuse to run on Sunday? Will the man step into an apparent abyss to save his father's life based solely on the instructions written in his father's diary? What would you do in each of those cases? Would you: Admit? Refuse? Step forward? (Quick quiz: name each of the movies those scenarios come from, answers below.)
Now while it is unlikely one would face ANY of those specific situations, we likely WILL be asked to choose between: admitting a hard truth or adopting an easy falsehood, deciding on something we want versus God's Will, going forward with something that frightens us for a loved one or turning your back in fear. Were they clever? How did they work that courage up?
We are all interested in how others face challenges. Family stories of Grandpa's fishing expedition or how a cousin approached a job interview or how your best friend proposed to his girl can be the inspirations to how you will face your own challenges. Movies help expand our pallet of experience. And getting an opportunity to preview that issue, to get a good example or observe a horrible warning are helpful REEL life exercises running up to the REAL life lessons we will face.
REASON NUMBER FIVE OF FOUR ……WAIT??!!…WHAT?
That's four reasons there. But are there any others? Well – yeah! Of course!!! Because they are darned FUN! They make us laugh, cry, jump in fear and shiver in admiration. The best of them can make us proud to be American, thoughtful about the weaknesses of being a human, awe struck by the power of God or the capacity of people to be selfless. They can also take us out of ourselves for a while to offer us perspective or simply a vacation from our daily stresses. Or they can reinforce the importance of the simplest most mundane actions of decent people.
These are some of the reasons movies are important to me and why I think you should watch movies. But the impact – long and short – they can have on our attitudes, our psyche or even our children's dreams are why it is important – as one of the characters in the quick quiz warns – to "choose wisely". See you at the movies!!!!!
Answers: Starbuck (story stolen by Delivery Man), Chariots of Fire, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
And — FYI, the caution to "choose wisely" comes from the knight of antiquity in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. But you'll have to watch it to find out why.