Thursday, May 19, 2011
The Power of Film
So why do movies have this unique ability than other media forms? What makes them different? Why are they more capable of communicating powerful messages? Here are five concepts that separate film from all other media experiences.
2 Movies are about something. A few years ago, I heard an industry insider say that movies are about something or at least the good ones are. He is absolutely right. Films are not like television shows or web-based content because they are typically anywhere from 90 to 120 minutes in length. In other words, you have to have something of importance to drive two hours of content. Plot will not get it done. Movies require a theme. The characters must need something in order for movies to work on an emotional and psychological level. Movies work best with big ideas such as justice, forgiveness, redemption, freedom, social change, philosophy, or political change. Movies work on a big canvas so they require something important to say in order to hold our attention and interest. Why do films such as Casablanca, Citizen Kane or the Wizard of Oz hold up after all of these years? Because they were all about something. In the case of the Wizard of Oz, it was about finding your way back home and also the thing you seek the most, you always had it within your possession. Those are universal themes that are just as relevant today as they were at the time these movies were produced.
4 The journey. Movies most often are about the human condition. What makes us human? Films have the capability of taking us on this journey as we seek answers. We can relate to this because at some level we are all on our own personal journey trying to make sense of the world we live in. All films are part of some journey. It’s expressed through what writers call the “character’s arc”. Films can transcend both space and time. In fact, we can see a character’s entire lifespan in a film. It’s through this process we can see how characters change, whether they are moving toward the truth or away from the truth. We can witness a conflict of values as characters wrestle with their inner demons to move from vice to virtue. Movies are the only form of media that has the ability to present this type of character arc and development. Through this process, we can see our lives played out in the characters portrayed on the big screen.