Friday, October 14, 2011

A Formative Film Moment

When I was sixteen years old, a classmate of mine told a bunch of us that he had a movie we had to watch. He said it was art. Now, that could go one of two ways. I had classmates who were really into film. One of them had a notebook where he kept a record and review of every single movie he had ever seen. Then I had the classmates who were into the things that 16 year olds were into. I didn’t know which sort Alejandro was.

As the movie started to play, I had a hard time deciding. But by the end of the film I knew. It was the first time I saw film for what it really could be. This was art. It was not an entertaining film. It was hard to watch. There was nudity but it was not titillating. There was violence but it was not exciting. It had a message; it was a warning.

For better or worse, that day changed the way I watch movies. Most end up being mindless entertainment: a product to be sold. But many, even a lot of the popular pieces, have something to say. You need not agree with the message of a movie; but you need to consider what you are being told.

I did not like the film we saw that day; still don’t. I did revisit it years later and came to the same conclusions although better informed ones. I consider it one of the greater films even though it is not a favorite. The message is a good one, and in more ways than one, the thing changed my life.

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