Sunday, March 22, 2015

Why do we love the movies?

This question has been nagging me lately. "Why do we love the movies?" What is it? Unlike some, I don't go the the movies for escapism from the pressures and horrors of the real world. So what is it? I've always said that I love storytelling, but that doesn't really get to the heart of the issue. Why do I love storytelling? It wasn't until this morning when I was watching the great Steve James documentary Life Itself, about Roger Ebert, that I got an answer. Ebert says in the opening passages of the movie that he loves the movies because it's an empathetic experience. We get to be dropped into the lives of other people. People of other nationalities, races, or genders, and see the world how they see it for a little while. I'm an empathetic person and this explanation struck me as remarkably true. Movies, and all art really but movies moreso than other forms, require us to empathize with characters and situations that are not our own. The great movies especially work a particular magic that gets us to connect more deeply than some others. That's probably part of the indefinable thing that elevates some movies over others, the ones that get us to connect more. But maybe that's a discussion for another time. I'm content now to have a better answer to the question of why I love the movies so much.