How Films Change Perception
How Films Change Perception
There are many ways in which movies or films may become art. Art can be expressed through color, angles, character development, plot, even scenery; or all of these combined. In the movie Il Postino there is a certain art of the film which allows the viewer to become part of the story, to fall in love as the characters fall in love, through the expression of words and moments.
This paper will focus on how movies or films help in changing a person’s perspective through the use of characters, plot, scenery, camera angles, filter use, and the overall ambience of a film, mainly focusing on Il Postino. A film is a gateway by which the viewing audience is immersed in another person’s life which includes their family, their culture, and their environment.
Due to the relationship which the camera has with the character, the audience feels as though they too have a bond with the protagonists of the film. By extension then, the characters’ life becomes the audience’s reality. The brilliance of movies is that there are so many ways in which to depict varied cultures and for each film there is a chance for the audience member to exchange, expound, and change their own perspective in light of the information they are given from the characters’ lives.
It is through this part of the film, the expression of love in its diverse and dynamic multidimensional forms that the viewer is allowed to partake in the film, be hypnotized with the characters and it is this that makes Il Postino an art film, and how it can change an audience members own perspective. Films are not only seen as an art form, but they are also used in a cultural context in order to present to the viewing public historical events. These historical events may be subject to biases such as in propaganda films (D.
W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation) or they may present documentaries in which plan objectivism is the point of the film (i. e. Bush’s Brain). A film does not only transport the viewer into different cultures but gives the world a chance to see the unfolding of history through the perspective of the people who lived through it such as films documenting the effects of Hiroshima’s bomb, and the radiation which ensued directly afterwards with first person accounts.
Therefore the lens of history is unclouded with such unbiased documentaries. Films are also a means of therapy and identification. Some films are so profound in their depiction of a character’s life that the audience member completely identifies with that person and a sub-cult forms based on the movie. These sub-cults can be seen with the movies The Godfather, Rocky Horror Picture Show, or even Psycho.
In these films an audience member can identify or want to encompass the way of life of these characters to such an extent that they may go and join the mafia, become transsexual, or even become an integral part of the Hitchcock fan base in which pure horror is the objective of the movie, “Shots of Gothic manors lit by lightening, of shadows glimpsed under doors, or of a hand gliding along a banister, are examples of the ‘spectacular means’ of horror; they are the kind of devices that have been used so often that they have come to define the genre of the horror movie” (White The Poetics of Horror 1).
Thus, movies go beyond displaying forms of a culture and begin to instigate their own subcultures. More subcultures will form from a movie that is subjective in which the audience member can come closely to identifying with the main character. The objective films in which an more omnipresent perspective of the unfolding of the lives of the main characters is not warranted to becoming a sub cultural formation but has its own merits nonetheless.
In the way in which the main character Mario lives, in his final act of love for the poet Neruda is found this close perspective of the film. It is not because the film is about poetry that makes Il Postino an art film that audience members identify with but rather is it how the characters embrace their own personalities, their own loves and destinies that transforms the film from one of typical romance into great romance. The transformation of these two protagonists is the center of making this film art.
Their responses to one another, their paradigm of poetry and love of life allow the viewer that voyeuristic look into the characters’ reality. This is what art does, this is why the movie is art. Even the final act of Beatrice giving Neruda Mario’s tape recorder is an act of poetry, a final salute the two friend’s past. The unfolding of their lives becomes a poignant moment in the audience member’s lives as well since the movie showed a close perspective of the protagonists’ lives.
Films also have a heavy impact on a person’s life when the point of the film is to present the audience with propaganda, especially during wartime. In the British side, the official task of the War Propaganda Bureau headed by Lord Northcliffe was to alter the minds of the British into thinking that the war’s aim was to stop the nearing catastrophe the Germans and their allies created. Indeed, the war was molded in that concept and fed to the people. However, the extent of mid-altering and opinion-swaying came to an extent never before imagined.
The meaning of propaganda clearly states that it the most legal way of changing the mindsets and perceptions of people; and only a powerful institution can do such a thing, for no individual or government can uphold and spread propaganda without sufficient resources. In the aim of altering or distorting the people’s emotions, a government has to adopt utmost carefulness in order to achieve its goal of merging together all the people’s sentiments and turning it into a national mindset.
Propaganda is the intentional, organized attempt to mold perceptions, alter understanding and dictate behavior to garner a response that will suffice the wishes of the propagandist. War propaganda was born in the World War I. In a war, the side which employs a more powerful and thought-penetrating propaganda despite disadvantage in strength and in number, possesses the innate advantage. This was done to maintain the morale at home and be in perfect synchronization with allies abroad. The British propaganda was the most superior and was even highly regarded worldwide even by their German foes.
Propaganda, as it was utilized in World War I, was the ruination of the human soul. The British were best at doing such defilement. Lumley (1933) stated that propaganda is the intentional effort to affect the minds and emotions of people. On the other hand, the Germans at the start of the war had experienced the culmination of their government’s own propaganda, the Spirit of 1914, as German propagandists made the citizens particularly the elite classes perceives the upcoming war as a means of unifying the peoples of Europe. By the end of the war, the Germans saw it as a distant memory and a misleading notion.
There one could conclude regarding the striking contrasts between the propaganda of Britain and Germany. Germany, as well as the other nations of the Central Powers led its people to believe that the war to be waged was to achieve a noble cause whilst Britain led its people to see the war as a means to putting a halt to the advance of the German militaristic menace. To guarantee that no additional or unwanted knowledge flowed into the public and for the governments to at least give the people some information just for the sake of informing them, all sorts of information were filtered.
Information media were tight and under scrutiny. Media, like the newspaper for instance, print filtered news that is sanctioned by the government because if otherwise, they will be the subject of penalties. The government made people read what they only want them to read. For example in Britain, censorship was the key ingredient because newspapers were run by the media barons who were more than willing to cooperate. They helped print headlines which made emotions of the British civilians surge in anger, depicting Germans in utmost cruelty and picturing the German leaders as bellicose bullies.
Inevitably, across in Western Europe the same was also happening in Germany, where the authorities propagandized the British as sadistic towards their German captives. In all of the countries, propaganda was also behind the altering of casualty figures which were lessened considerably to make the people optimistic of the outcome. Just as films are maneuvered to present a specific and altered point of view during a war, or a film presents the viewer with point of view perspective of a culture, so too does a film bring forth international cultures that reflect a specific country.
This view point can be seen in films such as Amelie in which the protagonist searches the film through for a boy who dropped a picture book, and the reflection of quirky natures of the main characters is portrayed and the way in which the French easily examine sexuality in the film (as in the scene where the man works in a sex shop). Films are not only used to portray and represent different cultures to the audience but they may also be used for educational purposes.
This goes beyond the scope of sex education films but can also include driving safely videos, or even military outfits gain instruction from a film on how to survive out in the wild. Despite all of the facets that a film may provide for an audience member; be it differing views on culture, educational purposes, propaganda, the main purpose, and the one that makes all of the others seemingly obsolete is that of the movie’s entertainment value. Audience members attend films in order to escape their own reality for a while, the immerse themselves in another person’s perspective, their reality.
Thus, movies perform a function in society of entertainment, of escapism, of fantasy, and that is their main appeal. Works Cited Carrol, Noel. Nightmare and the Horror Film: The Symbolic Biology of Fantastic Beings. Film Quarterly. Vol. 34, No. 3. pp16-25. Spring 1981. Cull, N. J. Selling War: The British Propaganda Campaign against American Neutrality in World War II. London: Oxford University Press. 1997. Il Postino. Blue Dahlia Productions. 1994. White, Dennis L. The Poetics of Horror More than Meets the Eye. “Cinema Journal” Vol. 10, No. 2. pp1-18. Spring 1971.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 18 November 2016
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