Art as Conversation

There are two ways to watch a movie:

  1. Treat it as mere entertainment; or

  2. Appreciate it as a form of art, as something to engage with, as something to question and be questioned by.

Abstracted one level up:

  1. Art can be a commodity (Entertainment) or;

  2. Art can be a conversation. (Engagement)

Naturally, movies can be pitched at various places on the spectrum between mere entertainment and real social engagement, but for most cases - the attitude of the viewer dictate what they will get out of it.

If you see it as purely entertainment, you are just going to be pacified - and that’s ok sometimes. But if you go in with the attitude of trying to engage with what the artist is trying to say and let it start conversations - then you are getting at the meat of why it was made. This is a choice.

This was made clear to me when doing my first film study at high school where we went painstakingly slowly through ‘The Shawshank Redemption'. There we tore apart every scene, looking at camera angles, music scoring, directorial choices etc. This was the first time I had considered how much effort goes into the storytelling and depiction of events on screen. There is so much more there than just a script. Everything can be symbolic and endowed with meaning. If you go in looking for that, you find it. And the movie ends up meaning so much more, like 'The Shawshank Redemption' does for me.

It’s an attitude thing. Why are you watching this film? What are you trying to squeeze out of it?

(Similar to life, huh?)