Friday, April 15, 2011

Beyond Film: Movies That Are More Than Movies

With as many movies as I watch and then write reviews for, occasionally I find movies that you just can't easily give ratings to, mainly because of their subject matter and cultural impact. What I am talking about are movies that are more then movies, movies that it just seems silly to compare with other movies. So it is with this thought that I now give you 4 films that I think have surpassed the medium they were made in and have become something more.

When I started to think about doing this post, a few movies jumped to mind immediately, but for some reason my movie blogging brian thought that two was too little for a post, (get it, two and too, sometimes my genius scares me) so I started to rack my brian for some more (I actually was so stumped that I asked my wife and my best friend if they could think of any movies that fit the bill, but they couldn't think of any either then the ones I had already come up with, so they weren't much help) and then after finally figuring out one more, that still left one spot to fill, and that is when I found it, when I rewatched the movie Philadelphia.
Philadelphia is a movie about justice, rights, humane treatment, tolerance, bigotry, and over coming fears. I came to the conclusion that Philadelphia is a movie that is more than a movie when I sat down to try and write a review about it. I started to think about its subject matter, dealing with homosexually, aids and prejudice, and then I thought about what other movies I could possibly compare it to, and I came up empty. I couldn't think of any other film that looks at what Philadelphia does and had as much impact and carries as much weight as it did and still does today. Now regardless of whatever you, I, or anybody else believes about homosexuality, whether it is viewed as a sin, or you think it is right or wrong, or that it is genetic or is a personal individual choice, none of that gives anyone the right to treat people badly, especially the way Tom Hanks character is treated. Philadelphia looks at issues and asks questions that no
 other film does. It makes you think about the nature of man and leaves the viewer with an ending that raises more question then it gives answers to, and it is because of this that it is more then just a movie, and definitely more then just a movie about a gay man who was treated unfairly. Philadelphia asks us to dig much deeper then simple entertainment and it does it with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington giving incredible performances, and that just makes it all that much more better.

The Godfather
A couple of weeks ago I was talking to the co-leader of the guys small group that we lead at church, (big shout out to the guys, you may not know this but it was you guys who inspired me to actually start this whole blog thing, so if you like it a big BOOYA goes out to you, if you don't you are not reading this anyway, so BLBB) and he mentioned that The Godfather was the best movie of all time, (if you have been reading my blog then you will already know that The Godfather didn't even make make my top 20 movies of all time, no matter grabbing the number 1 spot) and when I told him he was wrong he told me I was wrong and we proceeded to fight,
where I totally wiped the floor with him and made him cry and recant his Godfather proclamation, (at least, that is how it went in my head, if I am being factual and placing this in reality I think we just agreed to disagree and moved on with leading the small group, but who knows, I could be wrong). Anyway, one of the reasons that The Godfather didn't make my list is that I didn't rate it as a five star movie, but that was mainly due to its length, violence and nudity, but that doesn't mean that I don't appreciate it for being the incredible film it is. Its just, I view The Godfather as being more than just a movie, and that is mainly due to the impact it has had on culture.
The Godfather is a movie like no other, sure there have been other mob movies, or crime movies, but for some reason The Godfather has become something more then just a movie about an Italian crime family, it has entered the minds of entire generations, (notice I put an s on the end of that word. The Godfather has not
 just impacted the generation it was made for, but also pretty much every generation since, even some teens are already embracing it, heck it was even turned into a videogame) and then has been reflected back in their general consciousness. With that you can see its influence in countless movies, novels, songs and even paintings, (I might be wrong about the paintings, but who knows, someone probably paints Godfather paintings, of Vito, or maybe horse heads, or maybe even a guy sleeping with the fishes. What! It could happen). Yep, The Godfather is all over the place in media, from romantic comedies like, "You've Got Mail", to kids movies where they love using the line, "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse!". Its influence is pretty much everywhere, and it is for that reason that comparing it to other movies, especially ones in the same genre just doesn't work. So although I don't think it is the best movie of all time, I do think it is something more then just a movie, and that might help some people understand why it wasn't on my list, so please, would you stop putting hamster* heads in my bed, I get the message already.

Schindler's List
There have been a few films about the Jewish holocaust, but not more impacting then Schindler's List. I watched this again a little while ago, and as the title of this posts states, it is a movie that is more then a movie. As I wrote my review on flickster I had a great deal of trouble in saying why it was a 5 star movie. Now I fully think it is, but when I looked at it, with the cinematography, score, lighting, direction, acting, actors, pace, and all the other countles things I think about when judging a film, well, they all just kinda fell away.
I just couldn't get past how important and moving Schindler's List was. The plight of the jews during the second world war is something that is breathtakingly terrible. What they endured as a people was unbelievably cruel and never before was there such a movie that looked at this in such stark reality as Schindler's List. Speilberg created something that was revolting while at the same time uplifting, disgusting while beautiful and although it is not a movie that is fun to watch, it is an incredibly rewarding experience to do so. That is why it is more then just a movie. Most movies
 transport the viewer somewhere, quite often for entertainment and relaxation purposes, but that is not what Schindler's List is meant for. It is a hard, brutal look at mans inhumanity to man, that doesn't pull any punches and doesn't over exaggerate what happened. It is more then a movie, it is a visual history with every aspect of the film making experience excellently covered. So, to try and really treat it like any other movie would be dumb, and that is why I include it on this list.

The Passion Of The Christ
Last on my list, (or more correctly, first on my list, cause when I started to put together this post, The Passion Of The Christ was the first movie that went on it) is the most brutal and sincere telling of the crucifixion of Jesus to ever be put on film. When Mel Gibson, (I know he has gone nuts as of late, but that doesn't change what he did in making this film) wanted to make an ultra realistic movie version of the execution of Christ, no one thought it would fly. Every studio that Mel went to said no, that it was not a movie that was necessary and that it would make no money. So he decided to make it himself, with his own money, and man oh man did the studios regret their decision. It cost Gibson 30 million dollars when it was all said and done to make The Passion Of The Christ, which made $370,782,930 in north america alone, you read that right, over THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY MILLION, and guess who got all that money, Mel Gibson.
Now, why did The Passion Of The Christ make so much money? Well, it did something that no other film had done before, show what Jesus actually went through. There have been plenty of Jesus movies over the years, some have been good, some terrible, but they all have one thing in common, they played down the brutal reality of what being whipped and crucified looked like. Many of the movies had Jesus on a cross in a white robe, no blood anywhere to be seen, this is where The Passion Of The Christ is different. If you read the bible, the 4 gospels talk about Jesus being crucified, but they never go into great detail, do you ever
wonder why? Well, my theory is that crucifixion was something that the early readers of the bible would have understood. There was no need to give details about something that people already had a clear vision of taking place, same with a Roman whipping. The people of the day knew what that entailed, so when they say Jesus was whipped and then carried his cross and was crucified, they got it. We on the other hand, don't, and for the first time on film, people got to see a sample of what Jesus went through. I for one will admit, The Passion Of The Christ is an incredibly hard movie to watch at times, it is brutal and unflinching in its portrayal of the events leading up to Jesus being crucified, and many times through out watching it I was brought to tears by what I was seeing. Now, Mel Gibson made a very good looking film, (that has been another problem with Christian movies of the past, the production value, acting, directing, pretty much anything you can think of all sucked) that easily rates being 5 stars for me, but again, how the heck do I compare it with anything else on film. The answer is you can't. The Passion Of The Christ is the epitome of a movie that is way more then just a movie, it is a love story of God to man, that just happens to use the medium of movies to do it, and that is the problem when talking about it as a normal movie.

So there you have it, 4 movies that I feel are way more then just movies. They have each done something that no other film has done, looking at issues, and impacting culture in ways that will shape their viewers and open up channels of communication about incredibly important issues for years to come. They are more then just entertainment, or art, they are movies, but so much more then just movies, and that is all I really got to say about that. So until next time, keep your eyes open internet masses, cause you might just see something awesome**, who knows, it could happen.
*We don't own any horses, so putting a horse head in my bed would just seem out of place, plus where the heck would you get one, its not like horses are just lying around, with detachable heads. Now what we do have is hamsters, lots of them, we started with two "boys" which seemed to fight a lot, but after a while we found that the one boy gave birth to eight babies, so I guess the pet store sucks at figuring out gender, so we have hamsters a plenty to take the heads of and place them in bed with me, although it just doesn't seem to have the same effect, but I guess you work with what you got.
**Keeping your eyes open also helps you not bump into things and/or walk off cliffs, so it is kinda good all around advice if you ask me.

1 comment:

  1. Passion of the Christ is definetly a movie that is MORE than a movie. Yet, it doesn't truly encapsulate the pain and ridicule the Jesus went through for us.