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"Generous deed should not be checked by cold counsel." (Tolkien's Return of the King)

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06 September 2008

The play's the thing


The play's the thing 
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.
~ Hamlet II, II

How many times have we been moved by a play, or more often, by a film?  What is it about movies that catches us off guard at times?  We react. We have an opinion.  Something we've seen and heard rings true within.  

Films are not merely entertainment.  They are not simply 'art.'  They call out to any audience, now and in twenty years or a hundred, and carry something of one generation to another.  Books are first: the pen is mightier than the sword.  Yet films strike another chord of human experience that may be culturally wider, for better or worse.   They reach a greater number of people, and a more varied audience.  That in itself is a type of power; often an unconscious power over large numbers of unsuspecting people.  The wielders themselves may not even realize this.   Like all power, there's the danger of abuse.   As Pieper wrote, "abuse of language, abuse of power."   The world of film is both word-play and a play with power.   

Two extreme reactions to this: completely ignore it or completely grab it.   Like all extremes which ignore Aristotle's golden mean, they miss the point.   Whatever is good, is good no matter where it came from, who said it (as Thomas pointed out), or when it was made.  Some parents, admirable in many ways, opt for the 'ignore' route.   One version is to avoid any movie within a certain genre or time period.  While that's undeniably 'safe', we're not called to be safe but to be human.   And to be human, we have to love this world of ours and all the good we can find here.   We're called to think, to reason, to discern, to exercise this mind we've been given.  And an array of virtues comes into play with films: being savvy with what films to watch/prudence or right judgment, fortitude and hard work in making films that are really well done, from the artistic, technical, and substantial point of view...  

To be continued... 

(Photo: Image owned by Kenneth Branagh, Ltd. No copyright infringement intended.)

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