For the longest time I hated movies. All movies. I couldn’t bear the thought of forcing myself in front of a screen to stare vacantly at all the things happening so far away, so out of my control.
I think I hated the idea of being God. Interacting with a movie is in some way experiencing a kind of Godly power isn’t it? You sit and watch from high above, atop the mighty sofa. You observe expressions change when backs turn, illegal stares that last longer than they are meant to, and miscommunications and misplacements that drastically alter so many lives.
You watch it all knowing full well that you could change it all if you could just talk to the characters. You have that much power.
And yet, to watch a film is to give up power. You can only watch. You have no ability to alter things. You cannot burst in and whisper into the mind of the female protagonist of an 18th century narrative that her life does not have to be this way. You cannot tell Romeo to wait just a few more minutes so that Juliet can wake up. You cannot tell the hero to run back and fight sooner because the people in his village are being tortured. You can only watch in painful angst, and hope that these characters make the choices you are begging them to make. You are, at that climactic moment, completely at their mercy.
To watch a film then is to sign off consensually on this exchange of power. To be voiceless and at the mercy of your characters. And to receive in return glimpses into their lives. Lives that you would never otherwise have gained access to. To silently observe the tinier stories that these characters themselves don’t know of. And finally, to think about all these stories, digest them and accept them, even when they break your heart.
Cinema teaches you the bitter truths of life. About relationships that spiral out of your control. Cinema tells you that you cannot fix some things even if you try, because you simply don’t know enough to even begin understanding. You are, many times, a powerless observer. Your hands are tied and you can only watch in painful angst, hoping somewhere on the edge of your sofa that things will soon work out for the best.