Monday, August 26, 2013

Ode To Cinema: The Beauty and Magic of Movies

Old-fashioned ticket office with displayed prices

Movies are like women: They are charming and fascinating; some you fall in love with at first sight, while for others repeated "viewings" are necessary. Notwithstanding, there are some who are simply not your type no matter how closely and frequently you may look. What makes me immediately fall for a movie and not for another one remains a mystery, the same way love is difficult to fathom or predict.

In fact, girls have generally proven more elusive to me, whereas movies have been constant and approachable since my shy and philosophically-inclined adolescence. To a large part, they have created my identity and self-awareness. They have been fodder for my imagination and even my penchant for writing stems from this magnificent art form. Although I wanted to become a writer at the age of eight, it was the discovery of movies that made me dream of becoming a director one day (and I am still waiting for that day to come!).

Although my love for books and writing is endless, there is a mysterious je-ne-sais-quoi quality to movies that eludes my grasp. Perhaps because it is a combination of various departments and disciplines that so appeals to me.

First off, movies are visual. That type of information always makes an immediate impact on people. You can read about the Titanic, and it may leave you cold. But watching it unfold in front of your very eyes will likely affect you to a stronger degree.

Second, film also combines the art of writing. There are pieces of dialogue that often sound original and authentic. Words are used to stronger effects via the performance of the actors. Movies often aim to create the illusion of real situations and life-like relationships. There are many films that are so well-written and original in their ideas that I feel inspired to write as well.

Third, movies use music to move us. Music has also been an important and essential part of my life, and I am impressed how many directors are skilled in combining the two seamlessly and effortlessly to make us feel the complete gamut of magical properties that surround movies.

I am from the MTV generation and must say that I find the idea of combining music with images quite thrilling and original, if done well that is. There are some videos that always stick in my mind and, in my view, enrich the listening experience. Unfortunately, videos have fallen in quality, mostly due to a general lack of depth or artistic motivation in the current mainstream music scene. To see glowing sweat and hot dancing people on screen is not necessarily my idea of art.

Yet although you have valuable and tasty ingredients, it does not mean that the stew will be worth its salt. In fact, it takes an imaginative director with attention to details to put them all together to strike a definite and lasting chord in the viewer's mind. It is indeed amazing how one has a limited range of notes in music, but can create an infinity of sounds and compositions out of it. The same applies to film-making which, if done well, can create an authentic and genuine work of art.

I think the movies that stick with me are those that not only stand out in their style and content, but also in their honesty. This applies to all art forms, but it is even more striking in film. If the incentive is to simply reach fame or make money, then the discernible and knowledgeable viewer will not fall for it. By this I do not mean that a well-made action film will not thrill. But it will have a tougher time to make the all-time personal movie list.

There are some films that I will never forget and that I have watched more than a dozen times. Like good music, I will never tire of them. And the more I watch, the more I appreciate all of its elements and details coming together. They move me no matter what my situation or context.

They can uplift me, and that even counts for the sad and tragic movies. The conundrum is this, no matter how dark or pessimistic the movie may be, the fact that it is presented in such esthetic forms will help it transcend all of its darkness transforming it into a thing of beauty.

That is art to me: Something that has been created out of honesty and with feeling, be it pain, joy, suffering, or grief. It transcends all of that and becomes pure magic in the mind of the viewer. But which movie affects us more depends on a number of factors and is often difficult to predict in advance. One thing is for sure, cinema is beauty and magic personified and watching them is a modern day religious ritual.

No comments: