Monday, May 24, 2010

Film Limitations or Limiting Imagination?

When I was a young boy, I always had a very vivid imagination. As such, my fascination tended to be geared towards the science fiction fantasy genre. Whether it was in books, television, or in films, there was always something about it that has always piqued my interest and much of my free time. Of course as you get older you do have to “put away childish things”, but I don’t think you should ever abandon that part of your childhood. The neat little ideas that got your imagination going as a kid tend to help you with your creative thought process, as you become an adult. It’s a part of you regardless on how old you are, and luckily for me I had the rare opportunity at that age to experience going to the theatre to see “Return of the Jedi” with my father, on opening day, back in ’83. To this day it was one of the most memorable events of my life. That being said, you do have to wonder at times why some, even today, still have issues with going to a theatre to see a film. Many still see it as a place of lose ethics or debauchery (no, I kid you not). All of this of course goes back to very early days of ‘theatre’ around the mid to late 19th century, where in fact were areas of questionable acts and performances (more on that history in another post). Yet well over a century later, there are still some that have issues with seeing a movie in a theatre. Or more recently, just the issue of seeing a movie period.

Here’s an example - a few years back I was treated to see a movie (my choice) by one of my more conservative cousins. I decided to see the remake of
War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise since I was slightly curious to see how it played out, special effects and all. Overall, it wasn’t a particularly good film. I wasn’t impressed much with the plot, or the effects, but figured I might as well get my money’s worth. My cousin, on the other hand, was absolutely agitated and upset with the film, almost to the point were I suggested we might redeem our tickets for another movie. She insisted we stay anyway, though quite upset. In any case, it was not a happy time for her or me. I asked her later on why she was so upset at that time. She didn’t give and exact answer, but did elaborate that she felt a lot of films (fantasy sci-fi in particular) have a subtle yet strong influence in spirituality, philosophy, and in some cases, (like in Avatar) pantheism. In the case of the movie in question, she really didn’t like the notion of hostile extraterrestrials, though I’ve long suspected she always had a strong disdain towards anything science fiction or fantasy or any kind. This particular encounter pretty much proved it.

Now I can understand her point of view about being aware of what you’re watching. Also, I agree with her on how some movies (especially as of late) within Hollywood do tend to follow questionable ethics, or present people of a particular gender, race or cultural background in a generalized stereotypical fashion. This too also includes those of Christian faith, usually being portrayed in films like the over-zealous condescending antagonist, or worse, the typical ‘bible thumping’ idealist character that becomes emotionally unstable when things go awry and become ‘crazy’. The later being the more common one in many movies as of late I’ve always had an issue with.

At the same time, I feel if we limit ourselves to what some say might not be the best suited venue to look at; you could possibly miss out on something that could benefit you on a spiritual basis. The movie “
Contact” for example (which I would recommend to see if you haven’t yet) I found to have a very strong message of faith in what one believes despite those that would question and oppose it. If I was to take the viewpoint of those (like my cousin) and limit my views and not see that film, I would have missed the chance to discovering that theme of faith, something that did benefit me. We shouldn’t let ourselves to be limited to what some might not want you see. If you feel you’re responsible enough to see a particular film for yourself, then do so. But do remember it is you’re responsibility. There’s nothing like that not only challenges you both intellectually and spiritually. For me anything less is just BORING. Well I guess that’s enough for my first post, hope to hear some feedback if any.

One last thing, even though my cousin (whom I love dearly in case if your reading this, but clearly has issues with sci-fi movies), did get the chance to see
Batman Begins with me later on that same year. Surprisingly enough, she really enjoyed it. Guess sometimes taking a risk and looking outside the box isn’t all that bad. :)


  1. Hey M. Wanderer,

    Interesting thoughts. Contact is one movie that will certainly come up frequently in our discussions (I'm a big fan of that film).

    Gangs of New York has an interesting portrayal of mid-nineteenth century life, especially of what a "theatre experience" might have been like. As you said, we'll use a full post to treat that topic.

  2. Indeed, If what theatre was like what you see in Gangs of NY, then I can see why there was such a resistance to going to the only issue is, that was nearly 2 centuries ago...MUCH has changed since then, and we still hold on to these opinions, like a bad habit.


What do you think?!