A brief aside on film: its power, beauty, and allure

They say that the magic behind books is words that exude the beauty of prose, an entry way into the unspoken thoughts of flawed heroes and dejected villains. The author's job is simple: to provide the words. The real work, and the most difficult part, befalls the reader, who must deconstruct the narrative and translate it into her imaginary world, one only she knows. And though each reader consumes the same narrative, their worlds are bespoke.


That, is the power and beauty of words.


I say great films are no different, and if they are truly great, can invoke vivid imagery and emotional impulses that challenge the viewer's realm of familiarity. The writer creates a script that tears down our beliefs, the actor delivers a performance that steals our hearts, the director captures the essence through an artistic visual that's so palpable, we don't even know what hit us. A great film makes us alive, spell-bounded, slightly bewildered though satisfyingly so. Its remnants are still firmly rooted in our minds for months and years to come, remaining just as intense.


That, is the power and beauty of visuals.


If a picture is worth a thousand words, well, then perhaps a video is worth millions. I watch with an imaginary pen in hand, rewriting each scene with words as I dissect it. Every observation —the slight tilt of the chin, the look of fear through a mirror, the neutral tones turning to bright fiery red — accentuate the intention behind the narrative.


In moments of silence, I learn not to digress, and instead hold the space intimately. The director is telling me a story even in those blank, plotless moments, using the camera and color tones to further seduce. Yes, lure me to Shanghai in the 1940s, to Paris in the 1700s, and if you so wish, to another planet. Set me in the Caucuses, or the Great Plains, I don't mind. Tell me what it feels like to fall in love, and gently (or abruptly) break my heart.


Somehow the characters' passion and anger snake into me, and their pain and envy slash open the fortress where I hide my despair. I find so perfect their imperfections, their irrationality doubly so. I feel, truly feel.


A real artistic masterpiece will make us uncomfortable, yet concurrently broaden our emotional spectrum. As spoken by the great philosopher, Kahlil Gibran: "The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain."


In a way, we are all artists in the presence of a great film.

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© 2020 by molly liu