What is it about film, anyway?

Sometimes you don't realize how much something means to you until you have a really crappy year. For me, that was realizing how much movies and cinema meant to me in 2021. In that year I went from your average person who casually enjoys movies to full blown pretentious cinephile. And for that, I thank my English/film teacher. I won't get too into it, but one of the things that got me through that year was the support of my film teacher.

So howsabout them moving pictures? The movies, as they call 'em these days? I've always loved the experience of being in a movie theater. The projection in an otherwise dark room. Everyone getting quiet to watch something together (unless you're in a movie theater full of real assholes). But it's more than just that. I don't know exactly what it is about cinema that brings me so much joy, partly because I feel like my love of it has crept up on me. I don't have much of a story about the first time I was entranced by the magic of a moving picture. My first memories of watching and enjoying movies are mostly of Disney classics that I watched when I was young, which I still enjoy today, but I don't think are what inspired this passion that I have today.

I'm from California, but I don't think the allure of Hollywood or the glitz and glam is what draws me to movies, either. If anything, I kind of resent that. I'm interested in the history of the film industry and of Hollywood but the culture of movie stars and award shows is something that even when I was growing up I always found to be sorta... Superficial. I guess what is appealing to me about film is the diversity and variety of it? It is a medium that contains multitudes. Silent film, classic movie musicals, documentary films, animation. It's a historically very recent art form and yet there's still so much rich history and so much to explore.

Movies about movies

Buster Keaton is probably my favorite silent film comedian, although I have a soft spot for Harold Lloyd as well. My favorite film of his (that I've seen so far) is probably Sherlock Jr., which really captures the escapist appeal of film. When Keaton's character falls asleep while operating a movie projector, both him and the viewer are transported into his character's dream. In Keaton's dream, he can literally walk right up and step into the movie theater screen. The sequence in which this happens is a great example of Keaton's surrealist side, but also of the way watching a movie can make someone feel. To me, it's like the feeling of watching Dorothy Gale step out of Kansas and into the technicolor world of Oz for the first time. As the film goes on, characters from our hero's life have counterparts in his dream and the final scene of the movie is the awakened protagonist literally copying the dashing hero of a film as he tries to woo his girlfriend. These scenes show the ways in which we project onto art, but also the way that art projects onto us.

Where to begin with Rear Window? Not just a great movie about movies but one of my favorite movies... Maybe ever. It's a movie about watching and being watched. The act of filming, of looking at something through a camera. Of turning lives into stories. One of these days I'll say something intelligent about this movie and the movie Peeping Tom and how they're about voyeurism... At the moment, I got nothing. But just. Sit with the idea of voyeurism for a minute.


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