Introductory Post: The Appeal of Cinema



Hello and welcome to my new blog, SGS on Film: a piece of virtual space that will be dedicated to my inane ramblings on cinema, be it through editorials or reviews. Rather than use this first post to explain my so-called “story” of how I got into the medium, I think time would be better spent in trying to explain its appeal. It would seem especially timely, seeing as the virtues of Cinema are being constantly questioned these days, especially in contrast to its cousin in the department of visual storytelling- Television.

Cinema has two primary functions; the first is telling stories, and the second is allowing the audience to experience, a place or a set of circumstances entirely different from their own. These two ideas can work in tandem, but the emphasis is given over to the first of these two ideas. In thinking of cinema as a storytelling medium, I think that it stands head and shoulders over other mediums in achieving this very simple task.

This is due in part to one quality it possesses that many people would argue is its true Achilles heel. This is its limited amount of time, while the novel can be ever expansive in its scope and play by default is automatically longer than any film. Cinema does not have this luxury as films are typically between 90-120 minutes in length. Though, I realise there are a great number of exceptions, one such example being one of my favourite movies that run at nearly three hours in length.

Expediency in the presentation of storytelling gives cinema an adrenaline shot that forces it to make every moment count and make the experience by extension very immediate. However, this one element can be seen as a true red herring in terms of function, if one was to look at the history of the medium.

This brings us to the second function of Cinema that I briefly mentioned earlier, which is providing the audience with an experience that could be very different from their usual ones. The late and great Film Critic, Roger Ebert, describes this idea with much more beauty and potency with the following quote- “We live in a box of space and time. Movies are windows in its walls. They allow us to enter other minds, not simply in the sense of identifying with the characters, although that is an important part of it, but by seeing the world as another person sees it.”

With this in mind, Cinema can broadly be seen as more than just a ways and means of telling a story, and many films have encapsulated this idea. For example, the 2011 film- Tree of Life is an examination of loss from a child`s point of view. The appeal of Cinema comes from many other things that I have barely scratched the surface in discussing or exploring. Suffice to say, despite the renaissance of television in recent years with shows such as Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, Cinema still continues to inspire as a medium and it’s a candle that has not flicked out yet.

About Sartaj Govind Singh

Notes from a distant observer: “Sartaj is a very eccentric fellow with a penchant for hats. He likes watching films and writes about them in great analytical detail. He has an MA degree in Philosophy and has been known to wear Mickey Mouse ears on his birthday.”
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