The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Unlicensed Writer: Why do movies fascinate us?

  • Summer has finally commenced! Enter stage right: ice cream, swimming pools, sunscreen and sandals!
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  • Summer has finally commenced! Enter stage right: ice cream, swimming pools, sunscreen and sandals!
    As I've commented in previous articles, this kind of weather just seems to beg for leisure and an easy state of mind.
    There's one particular leisurely activity that appears to have drawn my attention more than the rest though: watching films. Within a just a few short weeks I've seen seven films by my count, ranging from childish flicks like "The Rise of the Guardians" while my younger cousins were in town, to works of art like "The Fall" at my best friend's insistence. Each film stirred me in a unique way in accordance with its genre, and all of them together have gotten me wondering: What exactly makes for a good film?
    I put the question to some of my friends and got varied responses. One friend asserted that company was what made a movie enjoyable, while another insisted jokingly that it largely boiled down to whether David Tennant was in the film.
    There were two basic answers that struck me more than the others though. The first was escapism. While speaking on the subject, a friend of mine who aspires to be a director commented that "In movies I'm basically looking to be completely immersed in another world for a couple of hours, and if the movie delivers on that premise then I'll consider it well-made even if I didn't like it."
    My best friend essentially reiterated her sentiments when she said "A good film is a movie that makes you forget. Forget who you were when you came in, forget what you're sitting on, what you're eating, forget that the people on the screen are actors. It makes you believe that what you are feeling and seeing is real, to a point where you forget everything that is not it."
    I must admit that I largely agree with this. For me, a telltale sign that I just saw a fantastic movie is when watching the credits roll feels like I just woke up from a dream, and I have to adjust to the fact that the world I just invested myself in was nothing more than a figment. However, if we concede that an escape from this world is the ultimate goal of a film, we are left with the question of why we're looking for an escape in the first place.
    I believe a friend of mine answered that pretty satisfactorily when he said a good movie contains "A good story, good acting, working towards a good goal, role models, basically things that you look for in real people and life." That, I believe, is the heart of why we watch films, and ergo what makes for a good one. We're not so much looking to leave one world behind in favor of another. We're looking for another world to be brought into ours.
    Page 2 of 2 - We are creatures of drama, and when we can watch someone's life story play out in about two hours, it helps us to see that there is ultimately a structure to our own lives, which can be easy to forget otherwise.
    This phenomenon isn't unique to our time of course. In "The Arabian Nights," the brilliant young woman Scheherazade marvels over the abilities of a master storyteller, remarking that "These people sit here for hours, just listening. It's a miracle."
    The old man, with his gift for wordsmithing, sums up in 15 words what I have spent some six hundred trying to demonstrate. "People need stories more than bread itself. They teach us how to live, and why."
    Clarke Peterson is a 16-year-old student who lives in Leavenworth.
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