Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Kael of the Week: Why movies work

“No doubt movies attract us from earliest childhood because they excite us and work on us, and perhaps movies came to the fore in the sixties because, unlike books but like rock music, movies could be experienced tribally, yet they also provide aesthetic experiences of a sensual complexity that it’s merely priggish to deny. People bred on TV and weaned on movies often feel sensually starved at a play—and they experience that starvation as boredom. When they are used to movies, live theater no longer works from them on a fantasy level. There aren’t enough elements going for them in a ply; they miss the constant flow of imagery, the quick shifts of pace, the sudden rush of feeling. They miss all the compensatory elements which can sustain them during even a bad movie. There’s a reason for that ‘Wow!’ which often seems all that a person can say after coming out of a movie house. So many images, sounds, and awakened memories may contribute to the film’s effect on us that often we can’t quite sort out what we think about the way we’ve been moved. We’re not even sure sometimes if we liked it, but we certainly felt it.”

-From the foreword to Reeling
Published 1976

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