Movies are both stories and art

Faith Blackaby, '22

Spielberg, Kubrick, Scorsese, Welles, Tarantino, Raimi, etc. Maybe these names ring a bell, and maybe not. These are some great directors of film (only of few, of course). Their movies showcase an interesting array of dilemmas, situations, and…morals. From the terrifying transition into madness from The Shining to the lighthearted comedic drama of E.T.,  we are given a thousand different stories to react to. 

What do we learn from movies, and are they valuable lessons? Should we be seeking to learn anything at all, or is that the wrong approach entirely? These are not easy questions to answer. I guess the best place to start would be asking, “What is a movie”? Going beyond the literal answer, it isn’t easy to define. 

My best guess is that it’s relative. To some, they plague children’s minds and make the world a darker, less sophisticated place, and to others they are nothing more than a form of entertainment, something to sit through, something to talk about for a day or so with friends, and then consequently forget, but for a few, they are art. They are someone’s vision brought to life through the hard work of others. There are so many good movies, and so many bad ones. There are so many good things to be learned from movies, and so many bad things, depending on your point of view. 

Take Citizen Kane, a classic which Welles directed. It’s a movie about a man, his life, and his flaws. He is incredibly wealthy, and incredibly unhappy. He strives to buy happiness or make other people feel what he feels—– miserable. One might say, based purely on the movie, that it speaks of the dangers of greed, loneliness, desperation, passion, so on and so on, and they wouldn’t be wrong. All those things can be true. But it’s also about innovation, creativity, and most of all risk. 

Released in 1941, the movie created many never-before-seen shots, bold lighting styles, and practical tricks. It was a wonderfully creative work, done for no other reason (No, not even money) than to give the story to the audience. Welles had a story he wanted to tell, and he was going to tell it.

 The movie was roughly based on a man named  William Randolph Hearst (who hated the movie entirely. Nobody likes to look bad in front of thousands of people, which is understandable, I guess). Being the wealthy man he was, Hearst made it near impossible for the movie to be seen anywhere desirable, but this didn’t prevent Welles from giving the story away. 

This is the case for most movies, I believe. They are made by individuals who simply want to tell stories. After watching Citizen Kane, one could focus on it’s themes of deep-rooted loneliness or the effects of memory, or they could focus on the innovation behind it, and the perseverance that went into giving it to us. There is no shortage of great films like Citizen Kane, no shortage of things to learn, no shortage of stories for us to enjoy. With each movie seen, take in the message, take in the experience, but don’t forget what went into making it, and the real-life struggles. Every film has a story, and I believe it’s up to us—, the audience— , to decide what we learn and if it’s important.