How does a great film cross a line? I watched one the films below for a second time recently and the question wouldn’t leave me. What aspect of its construction and implementation turns it into a greatness you can only endure once, while simultaneously holding it high on a pedestal and even recommending to those close to you?
I would argue – as I often do – that it is the visceral impact and the emotionally charged presentation of the issues at hand. It’s the ability of those actors in that moment to undeniably sell me their emotional state, their intent, their angst and their depth that creates the environment of impact. When that happens they reach inside and make me believe.
Some would argue that my opinion paints the issue as an image of a baser primal connection to film. Yet what is film, but story telling grounded in the greatness of visual celluloid after honing the skill throughout the entire history of our race. Though visual, it still adheres to the basics of the story and our fascination with this simple construct. The visual aspect would also be why some would laud the very same film and its disturbing greatness, as a vehicle of technical brilliance. It fortifys the very same belief by way of complete visual coherence and undeniable reality on the screen.
Other film fans would refer to how the story affected them as it directly related to issues in their own life. The subject matter could be so closely related to their own life that it generates strong reactions to the story. They relate to those characters on a very personal level. It taps a wellspring of angst within.
Obviously these arguments are perpetual and I outline them solely to offer perspective. While I don’t cover the obvious twist and turns, horror and shock ending films, they are still well represented below. I digress here at the beginning, exclusively to remind us of our differences. Without further adieu in no particular order;
Precious. Requiem for a Dream, War Zone, Nobody Knows, Quills A Clockwork Orange. How can human suffering, mental illness or palpable evil create such indelible impact so that even when there is resolution and some sort of reconciliation, it still doesn’t matter. You are permanently affected by these films, their characters and stories.
But what about the sheer horror of it all? Yes, that has its own place in this list but its entry, to me, is not as profound as the others since horror films are designed to do what they do. I find it’s the surprise of the fine line of feeling like you watched a great film but don’t want to see it again after the fact, that holds such a rarified position in the film pantheon.
The remaining four would include The Sixth Sense, Old Boy, Blair Witch Project and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. An eclectic group indeed but even though I would only ‘want’ to watch any of them once, in many of these cases I ironically may be compelled to see them again sometime.