Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Perception vs. Reality in Film

You ever sat in a room with film buffs, the conversation hops all over the place, but ultimately a movie comes up and immediately everyone gets excited. They go on about their favorite scenes, the characters, plot, music, meanwhile you're over in the corner realizing you've never seen, or perhaps even heard, of this movie. You tell yourself after all this talk you absolutely have to see it, no arguments about it, and you make your way to your nearest rental location and get it to go. You get back to the house, throw in the movie, get in just the right seating position, because you're expecting a legendary film to come on the screen. Two hours later the credits roll, you sit there not in annoyance, frustration, but rather in a sense of confusion and indifference. Sure there were parts you liked parts you didn't like, but it wasn't really that good. How do you handle that since you know it's going to come up...

With all the buzz surrounding New Moon this weekend I got into a miniature debate with a friend of mine over the merits of Twilight. As those who have read my blog for any period of time know I'm not a fan, rather among the hater crowd. And while I do my fair share of bashing I keep myself rather mute on the subject when others are talking about it. Well my friend, a fan of the series, told me that I was blinded by my dislike of the sort of vampire, and that the movie was far better than I give it credit for. My immediate response was that in fact it's a movie with no merits, and that she was blinded by her desire for it to be a far more romantic film than it was. As we had this little discussion it occurred to me, we're both wrong.

As I've pointed out before I love to see the other side of the argument, the pros to my cons, and see how that affects me. I do this blog because I enjoy expressing my opinion on a film, and reading others. There's a constant back and forth in film between perception and reality, especially among certain groups. Amongst certain groups the reality is Twilight is an amazing romance film, worthy of massive praise, while haters just have the wrong perception. Then of course there's the polar opposite side of the argument. Though this is almost true for just about every film out there.

If there's one thing I've learned in my near 6 years in online reviewing it's that no matter how bad I think a movie is, it's someone's all time favorite. Then by the same token no matter how good I think a movie is, it's someone's most hated. In Kurosawa's Rashomon (pictured above), Kurosawa deals with how multiple people, even the dead, can all perceive the same event in different ways for a variety of reasons. Though of course in Rashomon each perception deals with human's desire to make themselves seem better, it's not that different in film.

We all perceive the world around us in a unique way, so that while we may agree on something we'll likely do so for entirely different reasons. The point being, that in film regardless of how many lists we make, movies we watch, there's no "reality." There's no one film that everyone in the world will see and agree upon. It's all perception, and while we can (and I think should at times) disagree, what's important is that we respect the right of others to perceive films in their own way. Of course it's always hard to express differentiating opinions on something, I often express my dislike for something through humorous takes on it, but it by no means makes me right, or better than them for having my own perception.

In fact the only time anyone should be harped upon is when they choose to like something because of the perception of others, and not themselves. That's the greater crime.

5 better thoughts:

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

You're right of course. Luckily all my friends dislike Twilight. Actually I won't call myself a hater - I'm indifferent, but so many of my friends, especially the girls hate it. But yeah, it's all pretty much subjective.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Fascinating post, lots of food for thought there.

I totally appreciate the last line, that is the truth. I'll keep that in mind for when people recommending giving something I don't like 'another chance' because they liked it.

Alfindeol said...

I feel like, as long as someone can express why they don't like something, their opinion is just as valid. Yes, I hate Rear Window. Yes, that gets me a LOT of flack in film circles, but I've spent hours mulling over why I hated it.

I just get irratated when people who don't care to think their opinions through preach about movie A being so good and movie B being so bad.

P.S. I need to watch Roshomon.

Univarn said...

@Andrew "You're right of course." You know when you hear it as much as I do you get kind of tired of it :P. Just kidding, I seldom hear that so YAY!

@Shannon I'm not sure you shouldn't give a movie another chance, some movies I've hated in the past got better on the second time. Then again the really bad ones never do.

@Alfindeol I can't promise you'll like Rashomon, it's not a film for everybody, but it's hard to deny its impact in film history with the unreliable narrator.

Marc said...

Well said especially your last paragraph. Yes having an opinion is certainly what make us film fans but the appreciation of why and how other people have different opinions than we do in the end make us more open-minded.

Great idea using Rashamon as an example. Seeing it during my 12 Days of Kurosawa made me understand why people think so highly of it. Even though it wasn't for me I did enjoy parts of it.

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