Recently, during this year’s annual
post holiday movie blitz I saw Good Night, And Good Luck, a
wonderful film directed by George Clooney and staring David
Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow.
During the movie, Murrow asks if entertainment is the sole
purpose of television. Being
a newsman, obviously Morrow believes it has far greater potential.
As I left the theatre I found myself asking the same thing
about film. Are films
just another form of entertainment like a baseball game or rock
concert, or are they something more?
Based on the list of films with the highest revenue, it
would seem that, yes, they are just for fun.
Almost all of them are works of fiction.
While Titanic, the number one grossing film of all time is
based on an historical event, I wouldn’t call it a documentary
by any stretch of the imagination.
In the top ten there are a great number of science fiction
movies, emphasis on fiction, not science.
And, rounding out the list is The Passion of Christ which I
would generously call historical drama.
Continuing down the list the analysis doesn’t really
change. So, I think
it’s safe to say that most people watch movies to enrich their
fancy rather than their intellect.
Contrasting this is the increased
number of independent films available at theatres and their
increased financial and critical success.
In fact, none of the films nominated last year for best
picture, director, actor, actress, or a support role even made it
into the top 100 box office revenue list.
But while not box office smash hits, Million Dollar Baby,
Sideways and Finding Neverland still clearly fall into the
category of entertainment. Even
Ray and The Aviator, both based on real people, lack historical
realism. Of course
there are certainly true documentary films but if they are
presented like the six o’clock news are usually run out of
theatres like they were shot out of a cannon.
And obviously, the time required planning and making movies
prevents them from presenting current events.
So does this mean films do nothing more than furnish eye candy to
the masses? Not at
all. Were it not for
the many technological developments made in the pursuit of
entertaining movies, we might not have the quality of television
that exists today. Many
of the video cameras, audio recording devices and editing methods
used to bring you the evening news and 60 Minutes were first
developed to bring entertaining films to your local theatre.
Much of the greatness of film is its ability to entertain.
Indeed, that may be its greatest attribute.
More than the ball game or rock show it involves us and
affects us each individually.
It is a suspension of reality during our sometimes too real
lives. It makes us
laugh and cry. Scares
us and gives us hope. Brings
us together and transports us into our own fantasy world all from
the comfort of a theatre seat or the family room sofa.
Film is what each of us make it.
So put that in your
and smoke it, Mr. Murrow.