Lucman, 3, in the projection room at one of the open-air theaters on the periphery of Ouagadougou.
We’ve all seen them. Movies that make us feel. Movies that stoke our adrenaline. Movies that make us think, or wonder. Movies that shock us. Movies that surprise us. Movies that inspire us. And movies that make us ask questions like, “Can someone really make soap out of human body fat?”
Above all, movies are meant to entertain. We all want to leave a movie behind with a feeling that we’ve experienced something that everyday life can’t offer. Escape. Vicarious thrills. Insight on a grander scale. Fear, without the danger. Enlightenment. Catharsis. But at day’s end, no one wants ninety or more minutes of their lives wasted by the experience (or do they?).
The film-watching habits of the masses are, despite attempts to quantify them as demographics, as varied as the human race itself. And speaking of race, what of film-watching among peoples of African descent? As many point out here, we are not one monolithic race (except maybe when it’s time to vote for the black guy). Everything in our lives is informed not only by background, education, socio-economic status, location and other variables but also by factors such as parental influence, peer pressure and even the use of mind-altering substances. It’s no different with film.
The question I would like to put forth, first to the full-time staff writers of S&A and then those to whom they would pass the baton is this: WHAT KINDS OF MOVIES MOVE YOU? AND WHY?
The word “movie” is loaded so, to quote the POTUS, let me be clear. Horror fans are moved by a film which scares them and crawls under the skin for days after. Fantasy fans are moved by a film which stretches the limits of their imaginations while providing inspiration for real-world adventures. Romance fans are moved by films in which love conquers all, including cynicism. Documentary fans are moved by how fact, or some variation of it, can be stranger and stronger than fiction.
This conversation is open to everyone, but I’m looking to the most involved members of this community to speak up first – and loudly! – regarding their own experiences with movies.
We often pitch battles, in the Comments section and beyond, over what kinds of movies are valid/ necessary/ classic/ artistic/ exciting/ worth-the-money, etc. and what kinds are exploitative/ mindless/ low-brow/ inessential/ boring/ fluff, etc. But I suspect that the reasons among us for watching movies, while affirming certain commonalities, are as myriad as the stars.
And worth sharing.