How do you watch films? - Cornerstone Church Kingston
Plan your visit


How do you watch films?

September 12, 2017

Article thumbnail

Stories shape our imaginations, and feed our dreams. And in large measure, they help to make us who we are.

Most of us choose to watch a lot of TV, drama and movies, typically at least a few hours a month, and some of us tens of hours every week. We watch to be informed, we watch to be entertained, we watch to relax, and we watch for excitement. We like news, and sport, and documentary – but most of all, we like drama; and we love stories. That’s why all the films that make big money are stories; and the best of them are sometimes more than that, ascending even to the status of legend and myth.

When some influential thinkers were publicly worrying that technology would stop kids even bothering with books and reading, J K Rowling came along and turned it around. How? With a great story. And hot on the heels of those extraordinary books – which people queued in vast numbers in the middle of the night just to get hold of a few hours sooner – came the just-as-extraordinary films.

All of us – young and old, male and female, black and white, rich and poor, everyone who is alive, and everyone who ever has been – we’re all suckers for a good story. Stories teach us about ourselves and our choices, and help us understand and identify our place and our people: who we are, and where and to whom we belong. Our families, our national identity, our cultural heritage – at least as much as they are hard facts, these things are stories we tell each other. Stories shape our imaginations, and feed our dreams. And in large measure, they help to make us who we are. In almost all pre-modern cultures, to be a story-teller was to be a hugely important and influential member of the community. And now, in an era when the dominant media are no longer written but graphic, films are the new myths and legends, and the backdrop against which we sketch our identities.

The Matrix, ET, The Godfather trilogy, Harry Potter, Avatar, Lord of the Rings, Batman, The Avengers, Fast and Furious, Rocky – these movies thrill and captivate us, engage our deepest emotions and rock our worlds. Countless others, too – many more unique and specific in their appeal. I guess if you had a complete list of a person’s, say, 100 favourite movies, you’d have a pretty strong idea of who and what that person is – what moves them, what matters to them, what makes them tick.

Given how significant they are – both in making us, and in reflecting us – it’s odd that we don’t do more thinking about them. Some people figure they ‘just want to watch’ a movie; that the real way to enjoy is to disengage the mind, open wide the eyes, the ears and the heart, and just let it hit you. But for most, it comes as a delightful discovery that engaging films with our minds – thinking about them, talking about them, mentally chewing over them – makes them not less enjoyable, but more. A well-told story is a real joy to see and hear. But a story considered, reflected on, and understood – that is a more lasting, and deeper, pleasure. Take some time, next time you enjoy a film, to think about it. Better yet, watch with family, a loved one, or friends, and share and prolong the joy by chatting about it afterward. Maybe best of all, come to Film Club, and let your head get in on the big screen action every bit as enthusiastically as your heart does.