How come movies that are usually selected at international film festivals or leave deep impression on you are disturbing, sad, unhappy or have very sad endings? Why can’t they be happy, comedic, funny, slapstick...
At that point in time, I did not really think too much into the question because I wasn’t sure about it, and I was also busy thinking about other stuff at the same time. However, I managed to find a bit of time today to reflect on this question while I was watching “Les Choristes”. For those of you that do not know, “Les Choristes” was a film that won “best foreign language films of the year” in 2004.
For a quick intro to the film:
The point I wanted to drive across is this:
Films and movies are made up of ideas that people see in the life around them. Regardless of how sci-fi the plot may be or how FAR it is away from modern normal life, it will still be about human emotions at its core. Watch any episodes of Star Wars, get rid of the jedi, lightsaber fights, tiew tiew laser gun fights, and what you have left is a story about human emotions. Hatred, fear, jealousy, happiness, sadness. Or we can actually just quote Yoda here, his one statement summarizes the whole first three episodes of starwars:
Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads…to suffering. I sense much fear in you
Get rid of any obvious coverings, and almost any movies is left with the bare basics of human emotions. So why then are movies that leave a huge impression on you usually sad
If you think about this from a different point of view, only when you know sadness can you know happiness, only when you know suffering do you know what it is like to live peacefully. When you are presented with a movie that is fun, happy, comedic, slapstick and “feel good”, naturally you are already filled with all these feelings already. Instead of achieving any more effect, you are already filled to the brim with this “feel goodness” that there isn’t really much else that the movie can offer to you without turning off the audience. Imagine going into a cinema to watch a “feel good” movie and instead you get totally wiped by the plot on screen and get reduced to a crying lump.
How about a sad movie? When you watch a sad movie, you are presented with sadness, pain and sufferings. As you watch those, you may feel fortunate, happy that life isn’t so bad for you or you may even feel for the plight of the characters on screen. Depending on the way the plot moves, it may bring you to an even greater level of anguish or you may actually feel happy as issues are resolved and things turn for the better, or you may even start wondering why such tragedies can occur in daily life.
When you can feel so deeply for the film and the mood changes or whatever, you can feel the direct contrast of happiness, sadness, pain, joy, suffering, a peaceful life… That is why I feel that sad movies can capture the hearts of people even more than that of a happy slapstick comedic show.
On a side note, human life isn’t as happy and as happy-go-lucky as it seems. Sadness, misfortunes are all around us, pain and sufferings are wide spread and things may not go as easy as it seems for you. However, we can choose to face everything that comes to us with a smile on our face.