The Thing About Movies

By , Needham, MA

Picture this: you and twenty other emotional people sit in a dark, open room, your faces glowing, illuminated by the movie in front of you. Popcorn crunches, and couples grasp for each other's hands in the dark. On the screen, rain is pouring down, thunder’s crashing, and the main character is sobbing and wailing, as she holds the limp body of her, now dead, pet goldfish in her hands. She shudders as her sobs escape from her mouth, one at a time. You and your fellow moviegoers cry along with her, tears soaking your face, as you try to stifle your wails.
   

Ugh. Give me a break. I'm rolling my eyes just writing this. The thing is, that's not what real life is like. Last time I checked, the rain doesn't immediately pour down whenever you start feeling a little bummed. You can be crying your eyes out, and that sun will keep on shining, like a boxer that just won't give in to their opponent. It's a classic movie technique, the rainstorm doing a sad, dramatic moment. It adds to the scene, I get that. But it's just another one of the things that happens in movies, and isn't so realistic compared to real life. In real life, it's not obvious who the good guys and bad guys are. In real life, the weather doesn't care even a little bit how you feel. And in real life, when something big happens, or you say something you didn't mean, the screen doesn't go black, allowing you to escape to the next scene. You have to keep going, deal with whatever happens, and accept how these things affect you.
   

When I watch a movie, I can pretty much always tell who the protagonist and antagonist are. Plus I can almost guarantee that you're rooting for the good guy. Take the movie 101 Dalmatians. I know very, very few people who watch that movie, and root for Cruella de Vil. But now, just for a second, imagine she wasn't a vicious puppy killer. Instead, she's a woman who was making a fur coat to keep her homeless family warm. Your perspective might change, maybe along with who you're now cheering for. In real life, it's pretty tough to tell if strangers are good people, and without the clues of a scary outfit and an evil laugh, it's even harder.
   

Finally, picture that dramatic scene towards the middle of any movie. You know the one when those two main characters get into a screaming match, and one yells something they later regret, something that makes the audience go “oh…no”? Yeah, that one. Well after that final yell, that intense line, you better believe that screen will turn black, leaving the audience to wonder what happened. Only until the next scene appears of course, and then all of our questions are answered. But what happens after that final line? Do both characters just stop talking and leave the room? Because that seems pretty unrealistic and impractical to me… and in anything but a movie, you would have to deal with that situation head on. You'd have to accept what you had just said, and find something to make it better. You don't get to just have the lights go out, and a director yell “cut!”, because this isn't an imaginary world, and you aren't the star of a movie.
   

So if there's all these things wrong and unrealistic with movies, why do we even like them? I guess it's exactly what I've been complaining about this whole time. Movies are so different from real life, and so they provide a portal for us. A way to exit our own, stressful world, and to enter one where we know exactly what's happening at all times, and every question will be answered in just two short hours. So next time you're at the movies, don't be like me. In fact, be exactly the opposite of me. Don't try to find the unrealistic parts in every movie, and then complain about them in a multi page essay. Just sit there in that dark, open room, and cry your eyes out. Because that goldfish meant a whole lot to you.






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