Cinema Chats: A Column

Emma Truchan, Editor-in-Chief

   Artistic films and experimental cinema have long been criticized for their pretension or their inaccessibility — yet many remain truly beautiful, complex, and valuable works of art. But, as I continue to watch more films, movies that are genuinely beautiful due to their composition and story-telling, I find myself feeling somehow inferior. There are aspects of the film that appeal to me (eg. the use of a color palette to convey a certain tone, unorthodox camera work, or the complexity of a story), but, overall, I find myself asking, “What does it mean?” and “Do my thoughts or opinions even matter?”

   This leads me down a rabbit hole. I understand that every film has at least some degree of inherent value due to the sheer effort it takes to make a movie, let alone the burdens of the creative process, and I can usually take this into account while still recognizing what I perceive to be faults. But, if everybody else thinks that this film is so incredible, so worthy, then why can’t I see what they see? The only conclusion is that there is something inferior with my comprehension, my analysis, or even my taste in movies. Falling further and further down a seemingly endless void of insecurity, I question if I even have a right to have an opinion about movies, or even media in general.

   I have ultimately come to realize that there is not something wrong with me or my taste. And, yes, like every other consumer of media, I have the right to have an opinion about the films I see and experience. But if I don’t connect with a movie that is universally agreed to be good, what does that say about me, or my opinion?

   The answer that I have found — either it actually is the answer or it’s just something I tell myself to help me sleep at night — is that someone’s connection to or opinion towards a movie, as is the very definition of “opinion,” cannot be right or wrong. But, perhaps slightly more controversial, the interpretation of a story’s weight and the artistic aspects of a film are entirely up to the observer, making the viewership an incredibly personal experience with no concrete answers.

   This argument extends beyond just film and encompasses the entire realm of art. But because movies, as an artistic medium, are so accessible and widely consumed, the principle has special emphasis in the film world. Each movie has value, but it’s up to individuals to decide what kind of value it has to them. As previously mentioned, many films that belong to more experimental or “meta” side of things tend to make me feel (for lack of a better word) stupid. However, such films still hold some value to me due to their brave attempts at artistry, or the efforts put into the complexity of a story. Still, this doesn’t mean that I necessarily have to like the film as a whole.

   Furthermore, judgement should not be passed based on one’s opinion or interpretation of a movie. Given that the process of watching and digesting a film is not simply subjective, but deeply personal, all opinions and emotions towards a movie should be accepted and celebrated. That is the whole point of a movie: to make an audience feel and think something, and connect with the film in their own way.

   And this opinion or feeling doesn’t need to be complex, conforming, or contrarian — and that is liberating. After watching more editorial films, the most important revelation I’ve had has been that my opinion about a movie doesn’t need to have value to others, and just like the movies I watch, has at least some inherent value due to the effort it took to come to that conclusion and the creative and analytical process it took to reach that point. I’ve realized that I don’t have to prove myself or my taste to anyone, and my preference towards films has value to me, and only me.