More Than Just an Escape From Reality – The Magic of Movies

     My love for movies started at a young age. I was always entranced by the characters moving around the 60 foot wide screen in front of me. Butterflies filled my stomach when I found out Mia Thermopolis was a real-life princess in The Princess Diaries (2001) and I vowed to never watch a movie again when Leslie’s death in Bridge to Terabithia (2007) ripped my heart out. The smell of freshly popped popcorn and the original 20th Century Fox intro will always bring a sense of nostalgia. But as a kid I didn’t realize the impact that a movie could have on someone. I thought of movie theaters as a retreat, a place I could go to escape my own bad days and be enthralled in the lives of other characters. Films are so much more than an escape from reality though. They often provide meaningful themes that we can take away from the screen and practice in our own lives. 

     Movies have the ability to tackle tough questions and introduce thought provoking topics without us even realizing it at times. They can be relatable, funny, sad, informative, or terrifying, but most importantly they can change our perspective. No one is born with an infinite amount of knowledge. Learning is a natural human tendency and we need access to a broad range of sources to be well-informed individuals. Watching movies gives us a unique opportunity to step into someone else’s shoes in certain situations that we likely would not be able to experience without the magic of film. After watching the movie Courageous (2011) recently, which follows a sheriff’s deputy’s journey to becoming a better parent and Christian, I was struck with an immediate urge to be the best dad anyone could possibly be (which I can promise is not plausible for several reasons). But the raw emotion portrayed through the characters in the film made me want to make some kind of change in my own life. While this instance is just a joke, there are films that anyone could benefit from watching.

     In our current world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to understand one another, movies have the power to connect us or at least give us a glimpse into the life of someone else. This can inspire empathy, create conversations, and even propel social change. The film Just Mercy (2019) does an amazing job, in my opinion, of illustrating a wrongfully convicted African American inmate and the faults in the criminal justice system that allowed this to happen. This thought-provoking film added to my knowledge of the subject and even broadened my perspective of individuals in this situation. Another example is Blackfish (2013), a documentary that caught so many people’s attention it inflicted actual social change. People became outraged after learning about the harmful living conditions of orca whales in captivity which set off extensive conversations and protests around the country. This led SeaWorld to end their killer whale breeding program, remodel their animal enclosures, and shift their killer whale shows to educational programs focused on conservation. This was all sparked through one captivating film which led thousands of people to fight for a cause they became passionate about. 

     Not every film will create such radical change or leave its audience with a life lesson, and sometimes we do need to turn on our favorite movie to escape from reality for a couple of hours. But many films have the potential to initiate important topics of conversation and expand an individual’s mindset. So keep watching movies. Watch movies you’re excited about, movies that have been your go-to for years, and even movies you wouldn’t normally think to watch because they might leave you with an important life lesson or a broader view of the world.