I believe in the power of cinematic stories.
I was 15 at the time. My mother was a resident at Bryn Mawr hospital and we had finally signed up for Netflix, the online DVD service. One weekend, I had gotten a movie I had wanted to see for quite a time called Raging Bull. It was the year Martin Scorsese won his Oscar for The Departed, and that was when I had become more interested in his works, since I had heard this guy had never won an Oscar yet he was some sort of genius at film directing. As soon as I heard this was one of his masterpieces, I was immediately intrigued.
It was a hot summer day sometime in July, the kind of heat that melts gum off of tarmac. My mother was out working, and with nothing else to do, I decided to pop in the film, Raging Bull, mid-morning. What I can declare with confidence is that I had never seen a film as chilling and as insightful as that one. I did not understand the deeper psychology of the film, the more complex cinematic storytelling elements, but I felt something I had never felt before in a movie. It wasn’t as though I was watching a movie, but I felt like I was in the movie, like it wasn’t a storyline that entertained me, but it was as though my soul was encased in the very private, intimate emotions of the characters of the film that only they could know to the fullest degree. I like to call that effect the “Ghosts of Christmas” effect of storytelling, where the storyteller has told the story in such an authentic and genuine way, we are like Ebineezer Scrouge from A Christmas Carol when he was whisked away by the 3 ghosts of Christmas. We are mere observers of some real life event, even though it may be fictional; we are just apparitions invisible to the characters in the story, seeing deep into the inner emotional workings of the happening they are caught in one way or another. We understand and feel the story as it unfolds.
I believe that with films, we can have our spirits feel new things about the world, report on the emotions of life that can only be known on a very human level. When an artist has connected this way to his or her audience, the audience learns more about the human condition and the human race, or it at least can engage in a different outlook on it. Or they can just have plain old fun. With cinematic storytelling our horizons expand beyond the mere factual knowledge of life. I believe that without films and cinema, we will be depriving our minds and our hearts of seeing emotions, a key element to appreciating life.