Presenting a self-examination of my recent moviegoing infatuation
Movies, comic books, and outlets of fantasy as a whole have been valued by Americans since the early 20th century. It has always been refreshing for our society to watch good triumph evil or see the underdog rising above their station. It isn’t an epiphany to anyone that movies are cathartic during periods of tension, but I’ve been looking deeper to examine my own personal attachment.
In recent months in particular, I have buried myself in fantasy films – Rogue One, Moana, and in particular Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Fantasy films are founded in the reality of human experience, with certain elements distorted. The circumstances of a movie elicits emotional responses from its characters, often evoking empathy and catharsis in viewers. We see our characters, be they isolated or gifted or “chosen”, undergo difficulties and setbacks, failures and anxieties, fears and vulnerabilities. These backstories and storylines are crafted to emulate experiences that viewers may have had. Everyone has characters they can relate to, and all of those characters are prone to struggles.
We as viewers might have had similar burdens and traumas as a given character, but a fantasy movie will exaggerate this upset for their character, either by cause or effect. In the Harry Potter books and films, the major characters are outsiders. However, the story augments the impetus for their loneliness, or the consequences of their isolation in such a way that it forms an important plot, imbuing their troubles with a sense of import and relevance. That relevance, that notion of cosmic entitlement to problems that matter, is something that can be hard to find.
Recently, I’ve been having a very hard time, in school and in general. I struggle with depression, with the stress of college applications and calculus, the leadership responsibilities I’ve been grappling with in my orchestra. It is hard for me to feel like my own hardships are important, when so many friends and acquaintances are dealing with grades and health and home environments so much worse.
In movies, the problems the characters are having matter. Their problems are a focal point in the film. Other characters notice and respond to their struggles, and the presence of an audience inherently validates their concerns.
I have always loved fictional stories, worlds, and characters. I have always been fascinated by fantasy settings, and intrigued by punchy science fiction. There are tons of reasons that I might read a book or watch a film, but I believe that it is this validation of characters that has provided such an addictive escape for me in the theaters, this past month or so.
I just want to imagine a world where my problems are ones that matter.