Fluctuating Functions of Films

         The main function of a film is whatever the director of the movie chooses it to be. The purpose of a movie may vary. The film may educate the audience, while others compel the audience to go out and do a greater good for the community. Many movies try to depict everyday life and as a result open up the eyes of several individuals to reality. Films often are meant to relate to the viewer in a special way. When this is done, a film has a larger impact that it would have otherwise.

         Many films today are done in a suspenseful manner. Today's society seems to thrive for suspense. Most often thrillers and suspenseful movies are viewed as though "that could never happen to me." Many times the American public does not want to face the harsh realities of life. We all like to sugar coat the harsh facts that we encounter in everyday life. Most often times we want to know that someone else out there and know he or she has it worse off than we do. Many times the world of film and literature is able to do just that.

         Many films try to educate the general public. Most often times topics that are hush-hush are brought out into the public's eye through film. The movie Radio brings out the reality of how people who are mentally challenged deserve to be treated like a human being. This film helped to educate the public on how to work with them. It was able to give examples of things they can do to help out society. This particular movie compelled many individuals to go out into the community and do a greater good.

         On the flip side of the coin there are always "chick flicks." Many times you have your hopeless romantics who wish to see a good sappy love story. People often find this as a relief from their own life. This type of story line often gives a false sense of hope. Many times the everyday average "Joe" does not meet and fall in love with the woman of his dreams. When you look at our society, we have one of the highest divorce rates. Something does not add up if you believe in the love stories that are viewed everyday.

         Several of the films that were viewed this semester on the contrary were realistic in the harsh realities of life. Many times these movies would show the "true never ending love" that one felt for another but somehow there was always something that kept them apart. In the 1939 film Wuthering Heights, directed by William Wyler and based on Emily Brontë's 1847 novel, Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier) had a love that could not be tamed for Catherine (Merle Oberon). In the end Catherine seemed to die because her life had went out of her without her precious Heathcliff. This particular film portrayed reality. Is it that our society has changed in its sense of taste, or have the producers changed what they want to do for the general public?

         Many of the classic movies we viewed this semester portrayed different perspectives from what we see today. In the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Elia Kazan and based on Tennessee Williams' 1947 play, Stanley (Marlon Brando) and Stella (Kim Hunter) had a "one of a kind" type of love. At the same time Stanley would beat Stella. Everyone knew it and yet did nothing about it. In today's films, that would almost never happen. This film portrayed that it was ok to beat your wife as long as you loved her and asked her for forgiveness. In today's society Stanley would have been turned into the police.

         Overall films can serve multiple purposes. The main thing is that the audience has to be willing and ready to view the film with an open mind as well as an open heart. The film serves whatever purpose the audience needs. Many times if someone in the audience has dealt with a similar situation he or she will relate to the movie and find a deeper meaning and understanding. When this is accomplished, the director and others involved in the movie often find a sense of fulfillment.

Elizabeth Canada

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