Film is movement. Film is breathing. Film is poetry. Film is life itself.
Life is so utterly finite, but when viewed in a universal context, it becomes quite apparent just how long it is. What drew me to film, therefore, is ultimately what drew me to experience all that living has to offer. The process of living is abstract, hard to justify and certainly as difficult to experience. What films have shown me is that life is beautiful, it is hard, and in the end, it is worthwhile.
Films also lives on in the public consciousness more than other comparable mediums. I’ve never really had a casual conversation about Michelangelo’s David, but I’ve more than certainly talked about Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather while talking to friends.
I was always that kid that had grand ideas, plans and expectations. I watched the Golden Globes and the Oscars almost as if I were watching the Super Bowl, cheering on the winners I supported and booing those who I didn’t enjoy as much. It was in this fashion that I became enamored by the spectacle that is the American film industry. I wanted to be a member of it, in any capacity possible. I would walk the streets of my hometown late into the evening, already scheming my speech for when I would (hopefully) win the Academy Award for Best Director.
Films have never failed to provide necessary context for me. I don’t just understand the predicaments of the characters that I see on film, I feel like I’m living through these characters. The film medium has helped me deal with my life in a myriad of ways, but mostly it has just allowed me to see just how universal certain emotions are across humanity. I have learned that suffering doesn’t just happen amongst a few people, but rather everyone. Beauty is also not just confined to spaces of nature, as I usually thought when considering the word’s connotations, but rather to a variety of places. Large urban swaths can be just as gorgeous as a stunning ocean vista through a film’s cinematography. This is what allows cinema to be the most spectacular form of art that is currently in existence.
I want to also take a moment to reflect on the physical experience of watching a film. While it’s certainly lovely to view something at home on a laptop or television, what really sets film apart is the relative intimacy that is gained when going to a cinema or multiplex. Never am I so moved as when I’m watching a film on the big screen. It is there that my phone is turned off, all my everyday distractions are muted, and I’m only focused on the relationship between myself and the screen.
I’ve found myself sobbing while watching such big releases as Interstellar and Mad Max: Fury Road, transfixed not only by their grandiose visual spectacle in the comfort of a large Regal theater, but also by their profound degree of humanism. When I lived in Boston for a summer, I remember traveling for forty-five minutes by way of public transit in order to see Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, where I could laugh and enjoy one of my favorite anime films amidst a great cohort of people. And recently, seeing Todd Haynes’s Carol at the Angelika Film Center in Manhattan, I also found myself moved, albeit in a different capacity. While watching the film, I could feel New York’s subway moving under my feet. I was momentarily involved in a cinematic state of bliss, but not for long, for soon I would have to go forward with my life after the credits rolled.