“Shhhhhhhhhh” your mind goes when the lights dim, projector turns on, and the big screen fades in. Within the faint sound of music and the first frame of film illuminating the projection screen you are suddenly transported into another world. Time stops and transcends itself in this moment. The movie screen has captivated your imagination and has hooked all your perceptions and outlooks for the time being. You have been quieted on all fronts–opinions, perspectives, viewpoints, and even thoughts. A great film has the power to shut you up.
When the viewer enmeshed in an audience setting looks upon a film of all genres–horror, drama, documentary, action, suspense, or comedy–everything stands still and one is plugged away at the images moving on screen with the sharp and distinct audio that encompasses each frame of projected film image. The visual storyline draws such a viewer in bent on seeing it unfold until the very end. Only a great film has the power to take the viewer away for 60, 90, or 120 minutes at a time calming the mind throughout the whole experience. This act of plugging one in through a feature-length film can occur in the dark-enclosed theatrical space, a comfy living room setting, or on one’s laptop or tablet computer. A great film–especially in this day and age of 24/7 media content flowing from everywhere–not only limits the distraction a person can get into when they are idly watching a screen but it shuts down outside content meant for distraction and disruption. A great film is an extended daydream; a dream enclosed in waking consciousness.
Try pulling yourself away from an Akira Kurosawa timeless classic where the action of the actors are met magnificently with the dialogue that carries forth the telling of the captivating narrative. Or look at the camera angles juxtaposed in the setting of a given scene in any one of Ingmar Bergman’s vintage films where his auteur-style keeps you probing on what will happen and how it happens–even if you are seeing the movie again. Stories that draws audiences in have this magical effect of engaging the audiences in wanting more, and their willing pursuit to seek the end of such a story from the climax of a problem to its final denouement. Greatly scripted films shuts us up on all our biases, prejudices, and sway. It opens our mind up and influences us to be free thinkers even for a slight and faint moment in time.
Film is language. A stylized language that connects images and sounds for an articulated, creative expression of storytelling. This aspect of storytelling in film language is expounded in visual-spatial form away from literacy and written prose. The speech, the voice, the signs, the sounds, the gestures, the movements, the semiosis is what carries the film from concept to completion, from beginning to end. Through this language that nonetheless shuts us up through the journey takes the engaged viewer on a traveling expedition filled with emotion, thought, feeling, and perspective. Such a power in articulating language for a short-form or long-form film length allows us as viewers to be taken away to places we only could’ve imagined while grounding us on pure expression and honest articulation.