Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Get Your Movie On

Super Bowl preview coming next week... I'm taking a bye week.

Since Avatar came out I've thought a lot about movies. Movies are something that unite people around the world. They allow us to escape into a world beyond our imagination. They allow us to have conversations about why certain things happen. They allow us to view the real world in a different light. But I want to get at why. What does it say about us when we allow ourselves to escape our real world so frequently? Are movies merely an art and entertainment, or do they allow us to process thoughts we would never be able to process otherwise? Perhaps they do, or perhaps humans have been conditioned to need constant interaction with some form of media. Whatever way it is, it's how we are... so let's roll with it.

The Ultimate Question:
Every movie has the same premise. It starts with a simple question. What if? The form to which the filmmaker answers this question is what's called a genre. I've listed five... (1) There's drama: what if we push human emotion to the extreme? (2) There's romance: what if an unforeseen series of events leads to two people to meet up?...and they fall in love? (3) There's comedy: what if we make fun of our everyday lives in a way that makes people laugh? (4) There's action: what if we create a hero that represents all that is noble and turn the world against him? (5) And there's sci-fi: what if we push the limits of imagination and create a world where some crazy stuff happens? It's all pretty simple, right? Well, not so much. The best movies all do the same thing. They plant ideas in the viewers head; they start discussions. Those ideas branch out into more ideas and discussions and more ideas and discussions...

Ideas spread ideas
So the inspiration for me to write this particular blog was to explore the types of discussions that stem from movies; especially the movies that have a profound impact on the audience. And if you think I'm just trying to explain why Avatar was totally awe-inspiringly awesome, then you're right on. But I like other movies too. I'll focus on my top-five. Here it is: Avatar, The Dark Knight, Star Wars, The Matrix and Wall-E. What do we learn from these? We learn just how far imagination can take us. We learn what a hero is. But what we discover for ourselves is beyond what we see on the screen. It's the thing that manifests itself inside you. Everyday we see something in our lives that reminds us of an image from a movie. We make a connection. You see a beautiful sunset over the mountains, and you can almost make yourself believe you're on Pandora. But you see images of trash piling up, and you hear about how carbon emissions are destroying the atmosphere, and you think, "aww, crap... we're going to need Wall-E to clean up this mess." But why is it that only movies help in providing this profound response? We feel more connected to the fictional, yet scientifically possible, world of Pandora than we do to the wasteland of Iraq. If you've seen Avatar, and you love it as much as I do, ask yourself whom you understand better: a Na'vi or an Iraqi? I can say that I don't completely understand why an Iraqi thinks or acts the way he does. He has been thought years of warfare and trauma, but I can't identify with that; I don't See like they do. But hey, I can identify with a fictional race of ten-foot tall blue aliens. They plug into their world and appreciate the rhythm of nature. That's what we strive for; the ability to connect with our world in some way and come to some sort of spiritual conclusion to life. That's why Avatar clicks. I can even say kaltxí tsamukan (hello brother). See the difference here? We identify better with movies than we do with other peoples. It's kind of eerie, yet true.


Imagine... Pandora

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