For the Love of Film

Sam Braverman ’18

From the December 2015 Issue

I’ve been told that the first film I ever saw was James and The Giant Peach. I was a baby at the time, so I have no memory of that, but apparently it made a huge impression on me. There’s something about cinema that stands out from other mediums. I think that it combines the best parts of everything else. Stories/narratives from literature, performances from theatre, and scores and soundtracks from music. Television came afterward, but film could be considered a streamlined version of TV. All of this is impressive, but the technical aspects aren’t why I love film.

Within my friend circles, I’ve often been considered the most knowledgeable person about cinema and Hollywood. This doesn’t mean too much, though, considering none of my friends became film majors or anything even related to that. I’m often surprised when a friend doesn’t know the names of characters and celebrities or certain films that I’ve seen multiple times. Someone once told me that he wasn’t really into movies and didn’t watch them, and I almost felt personally insulted.

Cinema is a part of me. When I think of stories, I always visualize them and see them as films. When I listen to music, I often think of how the song could fit into a scene and one of my biggest hopes as an aspiring filmmaker is to someday be able to use my favorite songs in my work. But my knowledge and mindset regarding film aren’t the only reasons why I love it.

I love film because of the worlds it creates. I love how movies get me to feel as though I’m part of it all. Shortly after I came to Ithaca, I was told by more than one professor that I wouldn’t be able to let myself be “sucked into” films anymore. I appreciate the idea because learning about films in class involves figuring out how to make them, instead of merely watching for entertainment. Films are, from one perspective, mechanisms that depend on the skills of everyone involved. It’s important that we understand this because one error in their making can have many repercussions.

But that’s not all there is to cinema, because for me, getting “sucked in” is the entire point. It’s to get invested in the characters and the settings. It’s to experience emotions and be taken on a ride. It’s to be brought somewhere else. Learning through observation and watching for entertainment are not mutually exclusive. Films should be appreciated for how they are made, but they become more than the sum of their parts if done correctly. They inspire others. They develop from the contribution of everyone that works on them and everyone that watches them to almost become a new entity.

Whenever I’ve had a bad day or if I’m just depressed, a good film can go a long way in cheering me up. A lot of the time, it’s even a way to feel like I’m not alone, whether that means the characters keep me company (in a way), or I just take comfort in the fact that I’m not the only fan of a film.

I love film because of the limitless possibilities. They can be as vast as the Star Wars saga or as simple as a philosophical dinner between two friends in My Dinner with Andre. They could take place after the end of the world or in the early days of existence. In a galaxy far, far away or a farm. Films harness imagination and use it to inspire us. In a way, I feel as though I was raised by cinema. My early exposure to the Austin Powers series inspired some of my goofier humor, while Hercules, X-Men and Spider-Man each taught me different morals and inspired me to try helping others. Part of the reason why my favorite film is Kick-Ass is because I relate so strongly to the title character, as I’ve always wanted to be a hero. In cinema, anyone can become a force for good, and that’s always felt inspiring. To me and countless others, cinema is a nearly infinite reservoir of ideas, and I can’t imagine my life without it.

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