The Joy and Magic of Movies
Stories have been weaved into the fabric of our existence—they are as old as humanity. And storytelling as an art form (or perhaps a necessity) remains at the heart of the human experience.
Stories are a big part of religion and culture. They indulge our imagination. More importantly, they bind us together.
And how fortunate are we to live in a time where stories can be told in so many ways!
One of best ways to tell a story that has captured the imagination of humanity en masse is film.
I think cinema, movies, and magic have always been closely associated. The very earliest people who made film were magicians. ~Francis Ford Coppola
Movies bring the story—in vivid detail—to life and transport us to a magical world. We escape, we laugh, we cry, we think and we learn through movies.
Movies tell the stories of our times. They define the landmarks of generation after generation. They document our prejudices and where we went wrong. Or they can spark debate and be the voice of change.
We build strong memories and associations with movies that we watched as kids and adults. They are part of our journey.
Today I’d like to invite you to immerse yourself in the movies you want to watch—not by just passively consuming the story, but by fully living and experiencing it.
Most of us do not consciously look at movies. ~Roger Ebert
There is nothing wrong with watching a movie to escape and unwind. However, it’s more rewarding to watch with a clear purpose in mind, combined with a desire and curiosity to connect with the story and how it’s told.
This is really where you get to appreciate the story and the magic of movies.
How to immerse yourself fully in the experience
Last summer I had a fun experiment with my family. We started watching the movies that won the Academy Awards for best picture.
I was amazed by the depth of the stories and the honesty with which they were told. The stories remain as relevant today as they were back in the 30s.
Right now we’re watching movies with Marilyn Monroe. It is so much fun to experience the stories from the perspective of the storytellers—the humor, the drama, the futility of most of our struggles, and the impermanence of everything as we know it in this life.
Most of the actors, directors, producers, and crew on such movies have passed on. Yet their work of art is here to tell the story. They are alive in our imagination.
I list below some of the things I’ve done to enjoy the experience and engage with the story and the team behind such a magical creation.
Decide on a theme. What movies would you like to watch? You can choose a certain category/genre, director, actor, or production.
Pick a movie and read about it. Check out the write up of the movie and the actors on IMDB. Build curiosity about the story and the people involved.
Watch with purpose. Don’t just passively sit. Look deeply, listen intently, and get into the mode of an observer or critic. Here are examples of things to think about:
- What technology did they use back then to make the movie?
- How different is the language used from today’s?
- Pay attention to the decoration, appliances, and tools the actors are using.
- Listen to the music and how it relates to the story.
- What food and drink do you see?
- How about fashion? What’s cool and what’s not?
- If it’s a classic, who do you know who lived in that era?
Keep it light and playful. Don’t take things too seriously. Watch with playful curiosity and enjoyment as it comes naturally to you. If you feel you’re stressing out, you’re over-thinking. This defeats the purpose. The main goal is to have fun—consciously.
Share your experience. Talk with your family or friends about the movie, or write about it.
- What was the moral of the story?
- How did it relate to you?
- Is it still relevant today as it was when the movie was made?
You know what your problem is, it’s that you haven’t seen enough movies - all of life’s riddles are answered in the movies. ~Steve Martin
Watching movies is not just about passive entertainment. Movies are, and will remain, an integral part of our cultural and artistic ecosystem.
It doesn’t matter whether we see them on the big screen or from the comfort of our homes. As long as they tell stories, we will be watching.
And with the technologies of today, movies have a wider reach than ever. We can watch movies from countries around the globe.
Through movies we fulfill our need to connect with, and understand each other. With stories that bridge the gap and remind us of our shared needs and aspirations we enrich our lives and accentuate our humanity.
Turn movie watching today into a joyful experience by taking an active role. Engage with the story and have the best time.
You can map your life through your favorite movies, and no two people’s maps will be the same. ~Mary Schmich