Film has always played a powerful role in my life; one that I’m incredibly thankful for. It has helped me make sense of the world and open my heart to perspectives outside of what I could ever hope to experience in my immediate surroundings. At its finest, film is an art that showcases the power of the human imagination and inspires us to dream bigger, love harder, and discover the beauty in life. On a personal note, it’s also what initially allowed me to uncover perhaps my greatest passion, storytelling. For that it will always hold great significance to me.
My enthusiasm for film started at an early age and I have my Dad to thank for that. He’s the only person I know who loves movies more than I do. When we go to a movie in theaters, we’re both in a state of absolute bliss. My fascination can be traced back to 1991, when I was just three-years-old. At my (repeated) request, my Dad took me to see Beauty and the Beast a Guinness World Record total of 13 times in theaters. It’s safe to say that this solidified the role film and storytelling would come to play in my life.
Side note: Since then, I’ve always had a burning desire to have my own library or bookshelf with a sliding ladder. When I purchase my first house, this is a must. Forget the pool, granite countertops, or fireplace. Give me a library, or at the very least a giant bookshelf with a sliding ladder. Freud would probably suggest this has something to do with the opening Beauty and the Beast scene when Belle visits the library to check out a book for the third time. The one about ‘far off places, daring swordfights, magic spells, a prince in disguise.’ One day I also hope to write that book.
Imagination is the very essence of human beings. It’s our defining feature as a species and the single most astonishing thing about us. From imagination comes creativity and art. To quote the great Robin Williams, whose passing inspired this piece in many ways, “And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” There’s a reason we have such an inherent fascination with these subjects, which often reveal themselves through art. They’re a core part of our being and happiness.
One of the amazing things about film and the reason it has such an impact on audiences is that it encompasses multiple forms of art. The soundtrack and music of a film plays a critical role in emphasizing emotions and helping to establish the pace of a given scene. No film can make the leap from good to great without an exceptional soundtrack. This also helps rope the audience in to feel the emotions of the story right beside the characters.
There are also obvious elements of novels, poetry, and plays. Film is just another form of storytelling. Finally, the visual aspects and the cinematography are an art in their own right. Similar to a carefully framed photograph or the delicate stroke of brush upon canvas, the images we see on the screen are what first capture our attention and leave us in awe. For the films that tie all these elements together just right, they are able to achieve a level of immortality and resonate with audiences for a lifetime.
“The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” -Chuck Palahniuk
Film is unique in that it ties together these incredible forms of art and the spectacle that is the human imagination into a single, seamless experience. Consider the nostalgia you feel when you hear an old song that brings back a flood of memories. The same can be said for a photograph or a story you particularly love. It is often that much stronger when these are combined into a single medium, creating an experience that is all the more real to us.
The masterpieces draw us in and we find ourselves alongside the characters, seeking parallels to our own lives. This is why it’s crippling for most of us when the great actors and actresses of our time pass. They are the talent and faces that breathe life into these films. In doing so, they not only bring us enjoyment but more importantly, reveal something about our own lives. They teach us lessons as we struggle alongside their characters, navigating the highs and lows, the beauty and tragedy we face as human beings.
Film, and art its countless forms, all offer lifetimes of experience and perspective on humanity. If we take the stories to heart, great wisdom can be found and projected to our own lives. There’s a lesson waiting to be discovered in every film, story, song, poem, painting, photograph…all we have to do is open our minds and be willing to look for it.