Saturday, January 7, 2017


Do you differentiate between movies and films?  To me, it's the difference between novels and literature.  Some novels are literature, and some are just fun (or not so fun) reads.

What sets films (and literature) apart, in my own mind, is depth.  A film speaks on multiple levels and it tries to show something important about the larger story.  If, at the end, there's nothing to talk about beyond "Wow, that was great! Did you see..." it was probably just a movie.

I like both movies and films.  I have times (especially when I'm tired) when I would rather watch a really bad (cheesy) movie that an excellent film! On the other hand, a great film can express truths which can be expressed in no other way. I suppose that can be said of plays, poetry, novels and so  forth, but I first experienced it in film, and it occurred to me that understanding the language of film was something well worth passing on to the Zoomlians.

So we've been watching a lot of great stuff.  We started with Akira Kirasawa's Seven Samurai. We love his movies!  To me, every single movie he made asks the same question: What does it mean to be a good man? And in every single movie, any individual frame makes a picture you could put on your wall. We've also recently watched his Hidden Fortress, Sanjuro, and Yojimbo.

We followed that with John Sturges' The Magnificent Seven.

It was really interesting to see the same story told from a Japanese perspective and then an American perspective. 

If you watch both, the different ends of the movies explain precisely the difference between Japanese and American film making!

Then we did Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (I know, what is it with us and sevens?).

Bergman's films are all intense, and the three that I've seen (this, Wild Strawberries, and The Magician) all deal with death, memory and the meaning of life.  Seventh Seal explores all three in the specific context of faith.

A knight, returning home from the crusades, finds his country scourged by plague.  He meets death (literally) and challenges him to a game of chess, played out as he travels to his castle.  Along the way, he meets many kinds of people, each responding to the nearness of death in their own way.

If Kirasawa asks what a good man is, Bergman asks what makes a worthwhile life.  The movie is richly layered with symbolism, and is worth watching multiple times. Teens and up.

Other great films we've watched this past  year: 2001, Macario, and we're about to rewatch The Island.

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