Why Do We Watch Movies

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Why Do We Watch Movies

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What is it about these moving pictures that keeps its audience glued to the screen for hours on end? We may watch them simply because we enjoy the art of cinema and the entertainment of others creating stories of things we dream about. We watch because movies give us a break from our everyday life. For a couple hours there is nothing to worry about but the fate of a character that we can so easily attach to. This question was magnificently summed up by legendary actor, Jack Nicholson, “They entertain us; they offer hopes (and) give traumas; they take us places, we never been, just even for few moments; they can take us away, when we want to get away; Movies inspire us; they challenge us and despite our differences, they are (the) common link to humanity, in all of us”. This quote provides the true vindication on why movies have become such an important part of our lives. They take the stresses out of everyday life and take you on your wildest adventures without leaving your couch. They give us an escape. Nonetheless, in this escape we find significance, giving our escape more value than we realize.

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Movies are an escape. The stress of everyday life can often harass an individual and affect them mentally. According to the American Psychological Association, three out of four Americans deal with stress at least once a month, and on most accounts more than once. Having an instrument to free them of their stresses can bring ease to their lives. Movies give us that instrument to escape the stresses of our day to day lives and supply us with the escape we desire for a couple hours. Movies have the ability to give us an alternate reality, maybe even romanticized to extract us from the difficulties we face so often. We desire the possibility to have someone come rescue us from the ruthless, harsh realities of life. Figures such as Batman and Iron Man present us with that savior we look for. They fly in and present us with this image of optimism saying: “Calm down, everything will be okay, I’m here”, assuring us for a couple hours that they will conquer our problems and we have nothing to worry about.

We are shown films surrounding spy missions, invasions onto Earth, superheroes, and magical dimensions because we so desperately desire something that shows us that there is so much more to our lives than we encounter every day. Imagining we live action-packed lives allows us to think of ourselves in a much higher regard if we were to look into a mirror. We feel as if we gained something that we wouldn’t have without these films, something that fulfills our imagination and makes us believe we have a greater purpose on this planet. Just as movies fill the screen with light and action-packed sequences, our lives too are given a light. A light that presents us a piece of the world we know we will never truly experience, but for just two hours that light makes sure we are not surrounded by darkness.

There is a reason kids, and even some adults, see these movies and want to dress up as Captain America or Superman for Halloween. They represent something bigger than themselves, something they aspire to be. Someone who is strong enough to fight the wrongs of society and use their power to show the world everything isn’t as messed up as it can seem at times. Or maybe an 8-year-old just likes to imagine himself taking on twelve bad guys at once. But the underlying principles we see in not just superheroes, but every movie character with a message is always there. It will be there the first time we watch and the one-hundredth time we watch it. That is why we watch a movie over and over agin when we have hundreds to choose from at a given moment. We see the message and what the movie means to us, it elicits a feeling nothing else can.

Seeing as movies have an ability to instantly shoot us across the world in some land we will never visit or transport us to a different time in history, it gives us a glimpse into a character’s life whose reality is distinctively separate from our own. We can view a life, an experience, something we will never live ourselves through a character’s life. They allow us to step into the shoes of someone entirely different than us. Everyone of us has a different perspective and views the world in dramatically different ways. Our natural curiosity peeks our interest to examine reality through eyes that aren’t our own; dream with others’ minds, endure through others’ difficulties, love through others’ hearts, and just at the same time we can hope it might transfer into our own lives. In Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne showed me what it is like to spend nearly half your life in prison for something you never even did. In addition, how to deal with the insanity that came with it and eventually outsmart the very system that put him away. People use movies and characters such as these to view lives they will never live. And they are able to view these lives in a matter of a few hours.

Movies help us relate and empathize with others. Movies carry us away to parts of history and dreamland like no other medium. Besides those who actually lived through them, you could never understand what the people went through during colossal events such as World War II. Movies such as Saving Private Ryan give us this experience. They have a way of telling a story through the emotions of the characters and the score behind the film. Picture a soldier ducking from bullets, diving into tranches and then finally, watching his brethren die at his feet, while he stands there helplessly, nothing to do but promise him he will tell his wife he loves her. That is not something you can read in a history book. These dramatic, heart wrenching scenes cause real emotion and give us a chance to understand what people went through when they did. In a sense they are the closest things to viewing the past, and possibly the future, that we have. We can never actually watch it as it happened or will happen, but movies give us an opportunity to understand things we would otherwise never see. Movies take us away from reality, but can very much put us closer with it than we ever could have hoped to be.

Since the dawn of mankind, the inclination of humans to communicate and receive various ideas, knowledge, and daydreams has allowed us to form our ideas and beliefs into fruition. Each medium in which we funnel our ideas and beliefs has evolved since they were first created. Cave drawings, music, and writing has in time presented us with ways to express ourselves and our beliefs further, through the likes of books, plays, and eventually, film. Film has had it’s place in history and a rise in popularity to boot. Although, over time, humans had discovered photography, projection, and motion, the three elements of a motion picture, they had not put them together. That is until Edweard Muybridge helped changed the world of entertainment as we know it. He set up twenty-four cameras which were linked to trip wires to take photographs of a horse galloping. Then developing those photographs and projecting them onto a screen with his own invention, the zoopraxiscope, and created the first ever motion picture, Sallie Gardner at a Gallup. This would lead to the first people to present motion pictures to a paying audience, also the closest thing to the start of cinemas, the Lumiére brothers in December 1895 in Paris, widely regarded as the start of film.

At first, films were often very brief, they frequently lasted only a few minutes or less, though some would go on to tell bigger stories. Though most of the films would be deemed short in today’s day and age, the storytelling and imagination in them was still apparent. Which just goes to show that even though humans have made so many advances in technology and such, we have always had an innate ability to tell a story and with each story, a multitude of imaginations to boot. These stories often depicted local events, brought about prospects of life in foreign places, short comedies, and momentous occasions in American culture.

Then “Hollywood” happened. The film, In Old California, by DW Griffith, became the first film to be shot solely in what would soon become “Hollywood”, well Hollywoodland, in 1910. Films transformed from short minute movies, and sometimes single-shot motion pictures, using few people, to longer films, consisting of a full crew of people developing multiple shots and thus came the birth of film companies. In a flash, by the earlier twenties, “Hollywood” had morphed into the face of American cinema and soon became the film capital of the world. As well as garnered all the allure and prestige it came to symbolize. The newfound glamour in the American film industry thrived by the twenties, coupled with the creation of the “movie star”. Hundreds of films being made each year, the film industry, became a force in American life and made Hollywood a cultural icon. As the thirties came as did the “Golden Age of Hollywood”. As the silent age had come and gone, Hollywood’s, most prominent era began. Movies began to share more with their viewers than they ever had as they became longer and were filled with more excitement. And along came the rise of the cinema.

The cinema became a world icon. The lure of movies and going to the cinema had grown to become such an important part of not only American, but the culture around the world as well. As more and more movies were being made and the popularity of them was rising, the cinema began to attract viewers by the hundreds. And by the mid 1930s Some viewers even taking a weekly trip to the cinema. Cinemas had garnered such an influence on culture that in the Quentin Tarantino film, Inglorious Bastards, the Americans used it against Germany to take out the German leaders. The German leaders all gathered in one cinema to watch a film on a German war hero who single-handedly took out forces of opposing troops. Even in a time of war, the German leaders were hell-bent on watching a German “hero” in a film about the war. This goes to show, even though fictional, the power film has to captivate people, no matter their race, age, nationality, or even the state of the world around them. And also the right way to win the war.

As the cinema provided a weekly entertainment value to people in the midst of their lives, it also provided, as it does today, the escape viewers look for when watching movies. Going to the movie theatre provided an escape for these people to experience something the world has never known. But these movies allowed directors and screen writers to transport their ideas and beliefs into something that could not possibly be translated using just words. Look at films such as The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, and, Citizen Kane, they are still widely regarded was some of the greatest films ever made. These movies provided their viewers with not only an entertaining escape form their everyday lives, but messages about life they would otherwise never gain. And so, movies have been around for over a century and are ever changing, but their fundamental purpose in our lives is perpetual.

The film industry has seen numerous changes in the way they produce their films, their use of effects, directing, and how they can get their viewer their final product. Each change has been in hopes of granting viewers the best possible way to watch their desired films and include the most desirable experience possible. Things such as drive-in theaters have provided movie lovers an enhanced experience, with all the same ideas and fundamentals film has had since it’s beginning. As the Golden Age of Hollywood ended, the look of a common day for a teenager and the common household was changes. And the drive-in embodied changes in American culture. Although they were prevented from showing first-run films, films in their first run after being recently released, drive-in theaters revolutionized the movie watching experience. They brought people together and allowed people to share the movie watching experience together.

Nowadays, we have nearly every movie ever made at our fingertips. That is incredible. We can forget the world exists and sit by ourselves and take in all that film has to offer or we can invite friends over and have a party. Movies give us different ways to express our emotions without actually expressing them. We can pick from thousands of choices and yet each of them can reveal something different, but have the same purpose. From the cinema to drive-in theaters to home television and VCRs to online streaming services, the movie watching experience has drastically changed the way we watch, but the ultimate reason on why we watch has and will always be there.

Movies have been around for over a century, but each movie made can affect an individual thank at watches it. Through their ability to take us away from reality and position our imagination on screen, movies allow us to experience something we can only dream of and give us a world where anything is possible. They have provided a break from reality and in turn gotten us closer to understanding our own lives more than we could have ever thought possible, by way of allowing us to see our greatest dreams and our darkest fears on screen. And then allowing us to live through a character’s eyes, if even for a couple hours, to face those fears and get our “happily ever after”. Movies have given people all around the globe an escape, entertainment, and a way to connect them with the world. So why do we watch movies? Everyone has their own answer, but movies are more important than we know.



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