cinematic triangles

22 03 2008

I have a friend. Actually, I have more than one, but this particular one is special. We both started out as psychology majors, then made the switch to English. And we both have an intense passion for film. I’d never really analyzed this before, and perhaps it was the tangential late night mentality, but I suddenly wondered if this was significant.

Is there a connection between these variables? Or just coincidence?
What is it about film that draws us, specifically, in?

Film is a combination of the two, which is why we find it so appealing. Not a middle ground, but a culmination of the combined influence of—and ideas behind—both fields. Something higher. (Not more important or lofty, but on a different plane entirely. Like apples and typewriters.)

Film does three things:
1) analyzes us (human nature and interactions) …just like psychology
2) serves as a static (if that word can even be used in reference to film) text ….just like English
3) influences (manipulates) us …the missing third element in the triangle of inspiration, creation and reaction

In setting out to produce a reaction from us, the viewers, filmmakers are doing something surprisingly uncommon. Public speakers aim to produce reactions. Psychologists analyze. Writers describe. (This is—obviously—an immense simplification.) But how often do all three of these come together?

I would argue that in the filmmaking process it is necessary not only to create art, but to consider every fraction, every frame of what you’re creating. It’s analysis. It’s text. It’s manipulation.

I don’t want to discriminate. This can, of course, be applied to the arts as a whole. But I also believe that film is in an exceptional position in terms of its capabilities of combining these three elements in a way that no other art form can begin to approach. Not that film is better at it, but that film is uniquely suited to it. The potential is there. Sometimes this potential is explored, and sometimes it’s not. (Mostly not.) But when it is, oh. What you get, what you experience, is something new and nearly intangible in its ability to simultaneously inspire, challenge, and even unsettle.

What’s better than having your frame of mind disrupted by art, regardless of whether this disruption is temporary or enduring?