It could be said that films today have the same significance as clothes. We know there was a time without them, we don’t need them to have a good time, but we also know that if they were to suddenly disappear life would feel awkward, boring and cold. Popcorn companies would go bust, cinema seats would be turned into kindling, and thousands of over-paid actors would be out of a job and would have to give up their personal trainers.
So what is it about a film that makes it is as comfortable as knitwear from Gap? What keeps us going to the cinema or sitting in front of our DVD/Blu-Ray players with eager anticipation? Why do we watch films? Putting personal tastes aside, I believe all the answers can come under three main reasons; three main reasons why we come back time after time to the wonders of motion pictures.
1. TO BE ENTERTAINED
For the masses, this is what watching a film is all about. We don’t want to spend our hard-earned cash watching something boring! Andy Warhol’s eight hour film ‘Sleep’ might be considered art, but the majority of us don’t have it on our shelves. What we do have are the action movies, the sci-fis, rom-coms, comedies, dramas, horrors and fantasies. Why do you think Hollywood rules the cinematic roost? Why can Leonardo Di Caprio claim his title as the highest paid actor with a whopping $77 million being earned from Inception and Shutter Island combined? It’s because the public loves to be entertained, and Hollywood and its stars know how to do that above all else.
2. TO FEEL
We all know the cliché. Girl breaks up with boyfriend. Girl eats chocolate. Girl watches sad romantic film. Girl cries and throws chocolate at the screen. It’s a cliché for a reason: it’s true. Although that’s only one example, we will all at one time or another have watched a particular film because we were in a particular emotional state. Feeling sad? You’ll probably want to wallow. The Notebook, Stepmom and The Pursuit of Happyness will see you through nicely. Annoyingly chipper? A musical is probably a good bet. Need to have your faith in humanity restored? Forrest Gump, no question. At some point or another we will choose a film based on how we want it to make us feel. Fact.
3. TO ESCAPE
In at number three, but perhaps the truest reason of them all, we like to watch films to escape. Feel free to add a whole host of verbs to go along with this idea: forget, pretend, fantasise, imagine etc. Everyone knows the feeling of being dissatisfied with life. Something goes wrong or it doesn’t turn out how you thought it might. Cue the escape into movie wonderland. Films are the best form of escapism when you need a break from reality. They allow you to leave your body and immerse yourself in a world where different rules apply, different things are possible, different choices can be made and where everything… is different. For me this is the true magic of the movies.
And on that note, number three is the reason why right now I’m going to go and watch Inception. See you back on Earth in 142 minutes.