Good movies are more than entertainment


Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

I could not take my eyes off of the screen, because ‘Scarface’ was not only brilliantly told, it was visually beautiful; the colors, the scenes and the characters were undeniably eye-catching and complex.

Arda Inegol, Business Manager

I was 8 years old when I saw Marty Mcfly board the DeLorean for the first time. I was truly amazed by what I saw on screen. Going back in time is one thing, but doing so in a car that looks like a jet plane? It was absolutely mind blowing for me. That was the moment I knew I had fallen in love with movies.

But what were movies? Except for some common titles like ‘Home Alone’, ‘E.T.’ and animated Disney films, I did not have much experience with the art of filmmaking. After several years, though, I have come to realize that films might be the most descriptive, emotional and beautiful modern art form. 

The main idea of a movie is fairly simple, but a good movie — not unlike a good book, poem, or painting — attacks the subject matter with a deeply rooted main message for the audience. Most modern movies are either entertaining or educational — and that’s decent. But a good movie is one that can accurately tick both of those boxes without feeling repetitive or out of tune.

When I was 10 years old, I watched ‘Interstellar’ for the very first time. As I tried to understand what was happening on screen, I realized that what I was watching was not only entertaining, but it was, as a matter of fact, also genius. The scientific concepts in the movie were real and it somehow portrayed a space adventure that didn’t feel whimsically artificial. It also emphasized the importance of family and bravery, while also showing the painstaking realities of regret. Additionally, it had great visual effects and sequences that allowed me to immerse myself in the story. After watching it, I could not help but think about the thrilling scenes and the all-important ideas that the movie put forth. It left an impression on me and made me think about concepts like remorse, and it also gave me a thrill ride for three whole hours.

When I watched ‘The Terminator’ at the age of 12, I remember absolutely loving every second of it. It wasn’t just another story about time travel; it introduced the idea of a killer robot from the future — by far the coolest thing I had ever seen in a movie. Not only was it fun, but it offered accessible lessons about the value of friendship, ambition and perseverance. The movie was also remarkably dark since it tied in ideas about nuclear war and armageddon — all relevant concepts at the time — yet it never felt overly dramatic or excessive.

That was when I realized the heart of what made good films good: they were all completely distinct from what came before them. They all established new characters, dealt with new topics and had innovative scores. They did not attempt to make money off of other movies’ successes since they were able to be successful themselves. I enjoyed watching these types of movies so much that I decided to forego movies that offered only redundant, mind-numbing escapism in favor of them.

Following my new standards, I decided to check out ‘Scarface’ when I was 15 years old. I could not take my eyes off of the screen, because the movie was not only brilliantly told, it was visually beautiful; the colors, the scenes and the characters were undeniably eye-catching and complex. It was as if I was reading the content of a novel, yet it was all packed into a two-hour movie. Importantly, this amazing movie did not shy away from depicting harsh topics such as guilt, excessive greed and the danger of not backing down. Even though the main character was a terrible person, the movie made him human and gave him a genuine character arc; he changed throughout the movie and became lost in himself. The movie made me care about him at the start, but it also made me hate him by the end. In my eyes, it was one of the best movies ever made.

To put it simply, watching these movies and many more like them has given me a definite understanding of what makes a great movie. I realize now that a great movie should tell a story with depth and nuance, but in a way that makes the experience fun for the viewer. Additionally, it has to also feel personal in some way, evoking an emotional connection between the viewer and the picture. In short, a good movie is one that has the complexity of a book and the excitement of a sports game.

So, as consumers of this great form of entertainment, we should find significance in watching movies to learn and honestly, to have some fun. We should watch movies not because they are simple, but because they are complex.