I have always taken watching films for granted and grew up with classics like Back to the Future, Star Wars and Indiana Jones, which made me enjoy the taste of adventure films can give us. I started to notice the industry behind films with The Lord of the Rings and the extensive Making Of features on the Extended DVDs. But instead of becoming disenchanted it made me even more interested in films. And it made me appreciate films that get everything right and despite the „industry“ behind them manage to transport you into a different world (and yes, The Lord of the Rings is still my favourite film ever!).
So let me share what I am looking for in a good film and what I enjoy most about a good film night.
1) The Story
As we know, most stories are nothing completely new. There are only very few basic storylines and most stories follow these in one way or another. I’m not saying that these stories are boring, quite the opposite. What makes them exciting is the way in which that age-old pattern told. It doesn’t have to be anything majorly innovative. For example there are many Boy-meets-Girls films. That doesn’t make them all the same. But sometimes there is just that special something, the characters, a spark, a twist or a fresh take on things that make a film stand out. And exactly these new ideas or interesting constellations can give me inspiration for my own stories. So every special film needs a special screenplay to give it that solid storytelling foundation.
2) The Visuals
I love a good story and I also enjoy old films. It definitely doesn’t have to be 3D, HD or 4K for me. With visuals I mean what you see on-screen. And you can see interesting and unique pictures in old or obscure films as much as you can see them in the latest Blockbusters. Some films might be good, but you feel they are lacking something. That might be because we only see some generic or uninspired frames. That doesn’t mean that a simple love story can’t be told with fresh and captivating pictures and this might mean that the slick and neat latest cinema release can become dull, despite all the action. I assume this is a matter of taste, though. But in my opinion Concept Art, Set and Costume Design and the Director are mainly responsible for getting the visuals right. And when they are, they can make you marvel or be drawn into places you have never imagined existed before.
3) The Emotions
Bringing across emotions is a combination of writing, acting and visuals. Some films remind you of a special time, make you nostalgic, make you happy, or might leave you feeling empty. But for me good films have one thing in common – they conjure up emotions. This is what keeps you hooked and engaged, next to the actual storyline. It means turning something created into something real. The emotion on screen is created (by music, plot devices, dialogue, acting, pictures and scenes), but as soon as you feel something as you watch the screen it turns into something real. And I find that quite amazing actually. How many times have I cried at films? How many times have I watched a film to make me happy again? How many times have I “aww-ed” or “NO!-ed” at the screen? It’s amazing what moving pictures can do!
4) The Social Aspect
I love books and I love alone times. But as a more social alternative I also love films. You go to the cinema together or you watch films together at home. You can enjoy them together or spot all the mistakes and be annoying nit-pickers, you can share your thoughts while you watch or get inspired together. Sometimes it’s great to watch alone, as it can make the viewing experience more intense (I really get into films and get on the emotional rollercoaster with the characters), but sometimes you simply need company when watching or watching together can make a film a million times better! So get your friends over and find some DVDs – endless fun! (Endless fun works with friends without the DVDs as well, but just see it as an added bonus 🙂 ).
So my love for films doesn’t just lie in being entertained. I look beyond the screen and when a film still convinces me and makes me feel something, despite me knowing it’s not real, I know it’s a special one. Some action films might do technically everything right, but there is nothing to grip me, some action films might still go all out on explosions, but also present believable and lovable characters – so you do care about that explosion and you want to know what’s going to happen next! Going on that journey with the characters and enjoying the ride is probably the most important thing. And if you have company, that trip will be even more fun!