May 09, 2016

When does a Movie talk to us?

If you talk to the movie, that is ok. If the movie talks back, that is psychosis.

I’ve recently been recommended to watch “Blade Runner”, a movie which one of my workmates loved. Or perhaps not loved, but rather considered it to be a very, very good movie.

I didn’t like it. This basic event made me want to write an article about movies in general and the ones that “talk” to us. Without further additions, let’s jump in.

We get it, movies resonate!

Indeed they do – the character’s personality or the story itself resonates with something within us, thus we like it and subconsciously feel attached to it, we resonate back in a way.

Paulo Coelho used the term “Personal Legend” in “The Alchemist” to describe the sum of experiences that an individual has faced, faces and will have to face during his lifetime. This Personal Legend is full of events which had an emotional impact upon us.


Be it a good emotion or a bad one, it is undoubtedly triggered and remembered (even if it is done so subconsciously) whenever a movie event resembles that personal memory. This can also go way beyond our own lives, as genetics play an important role in this as well.

Carl G. Jung used to talk about the Collective Subconscious, a very deep level on which we are all connected. As a very, very crude and sketched-like idea – try to imagine you’ve never felt loss throughout your life. You never lost anything or anyone. Well, this theory suggests that you would still cry at the end of Lord of the Rings, because other people have felt such strong feelings and you pick up on that “emotional info” unwillingly.

So, is there a basic formula?

Yes and No.

Sure, there ARE psychological stereotypes which can be manifested throughout the movie, in a way that they capture the hearts of the viewers. The young hero who ends up becoming a better version of himself, the wise old man that helps others, the funny yet clumsy character that ends up saving the day… we’ve all seen these archetypes.

Yet, here’s the funny thing: the problem nowadays is that we all have already seen them, we know them. We are oversaturated by them, thus they lose their effect on us.


The filmmakers are now faced with a new challenge – to disguise the archetypes in unique, innovatory ways to keep things fresh in our “psyche”. Metaphorically, they are playing the same tune but with different or stranger instruments, at different speeds and rhythms.

Some may call it “easy to predict” when a film that uses a formula doesn’t trigger a big emotional impact on the viewer, when in fact it is a situation of overusing (thus dimming) the viewer’s heartstrings.

Can we run out of disguises?

Not really, if you think about it, because it won’t be necessary to invent new ones. Every 80 years or so there’s a brand new generation popping out. There will be new movies, telling old stories, and we will always have the same content recycled over and over.

But that’s okay, that is good, these are the same experiences meant to teach and connect people. If something ain’t broken, don’t fix it, you know?

I will end this article with another example from my own “Personal Legend”, hehe. My family wanted to go see Avatar at the cinema. I was half-excited, I could kind of predict the whole idea of the movie (and I was right – thus calling it “Pocahontas 3000”) and something happened to me which never, ever occurred to me.

I fell asleep in the cinema. I wasn’t tired, the movie just didn’t appeal to me at all. The message was very nice, but it was a “lesson” I had already learned when I was 8 years old and saw Disney’s Pocahontas.

…I still don’t know what “Blade Runner” was all about though, but I might give it another shot when I’m older and wiser. Who knows? Maybe it is a movie that opens up to me later in life.

But those types of films are a completely different article-subject. Thanks for reading!


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