| Perspectives on Film |
- Need for Interpretation (General)
Survival Course Manual
Perspectives on Film
What's in a movie?
- The need for interpretation (general)
- C.S. Lewis said: "Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad
philosophy needs to be answered." (The Weight of Glory, "Learning in War Time.")
Because film does contain the philosophical positions of the men and women who make
them, it is necessary that the Christian interpret films with accuracy and integrity. This
means that one needs to "train" the eye and the mind to read and understand each
piece and not merely react.
- Matthew Arnold clearly expresses what art is and how it functions:
The grand power of poetry [and by extension the other arts] is its power of so dealing with
things as to awaken in us a wonderfully full, new, and intimate sense of them, and of our
relations with them. When this sense is awakened in us, . . . we feel ourselves to be in
contact with the essential nature of those objects, to be no longer bewildered and oppressed
by them, but to have their secret, and to be in harmony with them; and this feeling calms
and satisfies us (Matthew Arnold, Essays in Criticism).
Film is thus able to convey the realities of life, often with all of the faults and ugliness,
as well as that which is beautiful and true to the viewer who is attentive to the message.
- When interpreting a film, one should ask the following questions:
Conclusion: Any meaningful interpretation of film [or any art] should be more than an
initial reaction or unreflective opinion. If criticism is to be valid and respected it should
bear the marks of thoughtful consideration and fairness while demonstrating the ability
to make a case for one's assessment(s).
- How important is life to the director/writers etc.? Are the tough issues dealt with or
- Is there a discernible philosophical position in the film? If so, what is it, and can a
case be made for your interpretation?
- Is the subject matter of the film portrayed truthfully? Here the goal is to determine
if the subject matter is being dealt with in a way that is in agreement with or
contrary to the experiences of daily reality.
- Is there a discernible hostility toward particular values and beliefs? Does the film
seek to be offensive for the sake of sensationalism alone?
- Is the film technically well made, written, produced and acted?