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Thom

Why do you watch movies, or films? ...to be

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I was going to create a poll but I do not possess the access rights for such a thing, which is good, for the most part, because I don't prefer polls.

There is a quote in the Ebert watch thread that prompted my curiousity and this thread.

Movies can enrich our lives, instead of just helping us get through them

Why do we watch movies/films? Enrichment, escapism, entertainment or etherealization.

I suppose a lot of these categories could be doubled up, i.e., enrichment and etherealization or escapism and entertainment - some simply go hand in hand - but what is the main reason one watches a movie/film.

I prefer to be enriched. That is probably better stated by saying that I would prefer to have my person challanged; my way of thinking and viewing the world around me as well as how I respond to it. And I love when it affects my spiritual life and thinking and opens my eyes to my own lack of grace.

Entertainment is the least frequent of my reasons. There are definitely times when I just want a good laugh.

Edited by asher

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Asher,

I definitely watch a film - or participate in any art form for that matter - to be enriched. This does not mean that I have to be INSPIRED to a new level - it can just be something that opens my mind to a new thought, idea, and concept at a THOUGHT-PROVOKING level.

I "lose myself" in film, just as I do in literature, so I do not find myself being the critic of the filmmaker - so much as a participatory/critic of the lives portrayed and the worldview assumed and the spirituality experienced. (Unless, of course, the film making is so poor that it forces me out of the experience to being just a spectator of the film.)

Denny

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Why do we watch movies/films? Enrichment, escapism, entertainment or etherealization.

Could you explain what you mean by "etherealization"? I read the Ebert-watch thread & review in question, but didn't notice him using that term, so I'm not sure whether I watch movies for this purpose or not.

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I think it means to be transformed into ether or a similar gaseous state.

And that's exactly why, and only why, I watch movies.

(only slightly less snarky: I'm guessing that it's the synonym closest to "transcendence" that starts with "e")

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Snarky: nothing, nobody, nowhere.

That is hilarious. Asher Thom, the A&F rebel yell.

I tend to watch movies because I am searching for meaning and transcendence. I suppose that is the most modernist answer one can give, but many times I get sick of the questions and find myself longing for an answer, whether it is a perspective or not.

-s.

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To borrow from and modify slightly the words of John Patrick Shanley:

I watch movies to celebrate, to search, to grieve, to worship, and to comisserate with the desolate sensation of wandering through the howling wilderness.

And from John Magee, Jr.:

To slip the surly bonds of earth...and touch the face of God.

I watch movies because I find pieces of myself I've forgotten, boundaries that need shattering, and love that needs sharing. Movies awaken and reawaken me to the limitless possibilities of the imagination and the creative diversity of humankind, God's kids--be they estranged, devoted or somewhere inbetween. Movies are one of the the last strongholds where strangers can sit in perfect silence and commonality, without judgment toward eachother for a time, and share an experience regardless of station, difference or prejudice. I go there to escape, and yet I go there to come home.

Movies are, for me, the razor line I walk between frustration and inspiration. Movies are, for me, an opportunity: for birth, for death, for joy and for sorrow. Movies, be they sublime or base, never cease to teach me something.

And I gotta agree, sans expletive:

As Salinger's Holden Caulfield said, "The ****am movies. They can ruin you. I'm not kidding."

----------

Edited by Jason Bortz

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I think it means to be transformed into ether or a similar gaseous state. 

And that's exactly why, and only why, I watch movies.

Russ - If you are transformed to some "gaseous state" then I am not sure I would want to watch a movie in the same room as you.

::emoticon pinching its nose::

(only slightly less snarky: I'm guessing that it's the synonym closest to "transcendence" that starts with "e")

You got it.

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Why do we watch movies/films? Enrichment, escapism, entertainment or etherealization.

Could you explain what you mean by "etherealization"? I read the Ebert-watch thread & review in question, but didn't notice him using that term, so I'm not sure whether I watch movies for this purpose or not.

Beth - it really is what Russ stated, see above. I was looking for "e" words and it now looks pathetic, or at least less than witty.

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Jason,

How much of this quote is John Magee, Jr. and how much is yours? I would like to put it on our website.

And from John Magee, Jr.:

To slip the surly bonds of earth...and touch the face of God.

I watch movies because I find pieces of myself I've forgotten, boundaries that need shattering, and love that needs sharing. Movies awaken and reawaken me to the limitless possibilities of the imagination and the creative diversity of humankind, God's kids--be they estranged, devoted or somewhere inbetween. Movies are one of the the last strongholds where strangers can sit in perfect silence and commonality, without judgment toward eachother for a time, and share an experience regardless of station, difference or prejudice. I go there to escape, and yet I go there to come home.

Movies are, for me, the razor line I walk between frustration and inspiration. Movies are, for me, an opportunity: for birth, for death, for joy and sorrow. Movies, be they sublime or base, never cease to teach me something.

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Asher:

All of the above.

Why do you eat food? For nourishment? For pleasure? A context for socializing?

Peace.

Ken

I don't eat food.

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Denny:

This is the full John Gillespie Magee, Jr. poem:

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

Of sun-split clouds,

Edited by Jason Bortz

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For the same reason I have sex-- just to remember how great it is to be alive.

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That poem is one of my favorites.

I used to watch mainly for entertainment. Ever since reading Looking Closer, and especially since joining this forum, I've been actively looking for movies that move me into something bigger than myself. I still like popcorn movies, but I now find myself looking for meaning in a movie, as opposed to simply enjoying it.

Though anytime Tremors is on I promply ignore that tendency.

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Lately, I've been looking for both entertainment and enrichment at the movies. The two don't always go together, but I try to watch enough intelligent movies to offset my mindless blockbuster fix. I've come a long way since I was 13, when I used to swear that The Mummy Returns was one of the finest movies ever made. blink.gif

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Hi all,

I think this topic question is amazing. No one ever really asks why one watches a movie, they usually just ask, which types of movies they watch.

For me, I watch movies to develop a new perspective in life. I think it's futile to watch movies where the premise is obvious and there's no real depth in any characters or situations. I love movies that ponder many questions and dare to touch upon supposedly "radical" topics, such as religion. Based on this reasoning, some of my favorite movies are not even mainstream movies, they are mainly indie flicks such as Donnie Darko or Screen Door Jesus. Both are great and really dare to talk about religion in drastically different manner.

"A true friend stabs you in the front." - Oscar Wilde

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Alan,

When you mentioned "using" a film to teach, I would also add as a counselor "experiencing" a film to transform. I often send people to see certain scenes in certain films.

For example in JOY LUCK CLUB, there is a wonderful scene I have premarital couples go see if they have decided to keep their finances separate within their marriage.

Denny

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Is it offensive to say that I always stop to watch films when I am just too tired to write? I don't think I watch films because they teach me things I can't learn anywhere else (i.e. literature, the fine arts, or theology). But they do teach me things in ways that nothing else can. I can recall my first Brakhage, Resnais, Ray, or Cassavetes experiences. They were all distillations of thoughts that had been bouncing about for a while. This is not to say that film has not introduced me to things I would have been oblivious to otherwise, I credit this board with introducing me to Iranian film years ago. I still can't quite get over The Cyclist.

Film also seems to bring together people that think the same way, this board for example. Then there is Bazin, and the whole idea that realism itself is a means of contact with the divine that other media just can't quite offer. And hasn't Godard proven that it is impossible to truly interact with modern culture in any other terms than film?

Escapism is absolutely a good reason for watching good film. Watching good film mimics the reading of scripture, we are able to momentarily exchange this world for a world rightly aligned with truth.

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I find the question to be rather like "Why do you meet people?" I have no idea how to boil it down to an answer. But I'll take a swing at it...

Of the three options suggested.... to be entertained, enriched, or etherealized... I'd say I don't go in for one central reason other than curiosity.

Perhaps it has something to do with the hope of being surprised, delighted, challenged.

Perhaps it is because a story is a reminder of design and purpose in our lives, and it can send me back to the immediate details of my own life with a new lens through which to consider it.

Perhaps it's because I want to understand how others interpret the world around them, so that I can understand THEM better and benefit from their experience.

Perhaps it is because all good art and entertainment is, essentially, an affirmation that there is design and order and beauty and truth in the world... that truth is there, whether we like it or not, to be discovered, and it is not our own invention. I find that encouraging. It's evidence of God's existence and continuing revelation in the world. Our function is to share what we observe with each other, through simple honest storytelling, through abstract expression that communicates something bigger than can be communicated through didactic paraphrase.

Even anarchists must admit that they cannot communicate anything to an audience without some kind of craft or design or order... and thus they affirm that such things exist. (In other words, they use tools they've been given to fashion an expression, and yet claim that there are no tools nor can anything be truly expressed. Brilliant.)

I suppose it's much easier for me to say why I *don't* go to movies.

I don't go to turn my brain off.

Now, another way of reading the question is "Why do you watch movies... as opposed to listening to music, or reading a book?" And that would require a different answer.

I watch movies because I think things can be communicated visually that can't be communicated through literature or music. Each art form has its own unique capacities. I don't favor film over literature or music... I actually prefer literature and music to film, but film is where the most engaging dialogue takes place right now, so I spend more time there. Most films are just illustrated literature, celluloid made by people hwo sorely misunderstand the potential of imagery to communicate on its own. (Thus, my love for Kieslowski.) I watch films hoping to SEE something that speaks to me.

Also: I watch films because they're much more affordable than attending stage plays. Alas.

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Escapism is absolutely a good reason for watching good film. Watching good film mimics the reading of scripture, we are able to momentarily exchange this world for a world rightly aligned with truth.

I agree, but escapism can become a method of avoidance and denial of "this world." Like so many good things, it can be abused. In our lifetime, escapism is so readily available, and in such absorbing and engaging manifestations, it becomes... for too many people... a world so appealing that they never return to their own lives to act on what they've learned or seen.

Revelation demands a response.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

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Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: Also: I watch films because they're much more affordable than attending stage plays. Alas.

Plus you can watch most of them again and again, unlike stage plays, which recede into one's memory and remain stuck there forever.

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Watching good film mimics the reading of scripture, we are able to momentarily exchange this world for a world rightly aligned with truth.

If that's the sort of escapism you want, you'll have to be very selective about the films you watch.
Also: I watch films because they're much more affordable than attending stage plays. Alas.

Jeffrey, Jeffrey, Jeffrey. Shame on you.

Usher. Join TPS for the discount. Get rush tickets. Go to TicketWindow. Go to pay-what-you-can nights. Use your Looking Closer credentials to get some theatre-reviewing gigs.

There are people out there paying full price at the multiplex every weekend, and for what they spend on three mediocre films, they could get a ticket for one good play.

Plus you can watch most of them again and again, unlike stage plays, which recede into one's memory and remain stuck there forever.
So the recursive quality of films relieves us from the responsibility of remembering anything about them? Edited by mrmando

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I agree, but escapism can become a method of avoidance and denial of "this world." Like so many good things, it can be abused. In our lifetime, escapism is so readily available, and in such absorbing and engaging manifestations, it becomes... for too many people... a world so appealing that they never return to their own lives to act on what they've learned or seen.

Revelation demands a response.

I deserved this sort of response from that comment, but it is still true that escapism gets a bad rap due to its more nefarious forms. I can't believe I am the one making this point, as I am not very prone to reading films from a theological perspective. But the bald fact is that the person committed to watching good film does so because they encounter descriptions and explanations of the world that make far more sense than the ones TV and the media produce. Any film that reorients our perspective on a given issue is a form of escapism, as it enables us to view what is true and false from a distance.

Not trying to start a debate on this. I just wanted to point out that escapism isn't a bad reason for watching film de facto. Revelation does demand a response. So much so that it is interesting how much of the revelatory literature in early Christianity occured in the form of very escapist and otherworldly dialogues. The Shepherd of Hermas just barely missed canonization.

If that's the sort of escapism you want, you'll have to be very selective about the films you watch.

I am not very selective about the films I watch. But I do think that the Christian mind can be trained to identify the good sorts of escapism and critically respond to the bad ones. I'll pop in The Thing With Two Heads right after L'Amour a mort any day of the week.

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Leary rules. He lights up my life every time he makes a Thing With Two Heads reference. And knowing what he is keeping himself busy with filmwise and bookwise in his non-spare time, I'm inclined to think his conception of escapism is working out pretty good as a catalyst for engaging the higher and better forms of art and theology.

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