TheatricAL: Watching vs Analyzing

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Watching movies is one of my favorite past times. I consider myself an amateur film fan. I’m just now beginning to grow out of seeing only whatever blockbusters Hollywood advertises the most and starting to seek out critically acclaimed films and even a couple “classics”. The cause for this progression is hardly due to my own maturity (still waiting on that train). Rather, I’d attribute my development from movie watcher to film fan to YouTube. More and more I find myself watching movie reviewing channels on YouTube such as Screen Junkies and Collider Videos. These channels are formatted to be enjoyable and often do focus on blockbusters that are popular at the time. However, in addition to what gets them the most views, they will also inject a bit of knowledge about filming styles, cliche film tropes, and story telling elements.

I knew that many movies told their stories according to a proven and familiar formula that might vary depending on which genre the film is set in, but I feel like I’m learning now how to view movies in regards to their narrative structure. I know I’m not alone in watching a television episode or a summer flick and sometimes being able to call what happens at the end of the story. It is within this developed form of movie watching that I begin to see a problem. I find myself asking if it is better to completely turn my brain off and let the movie take me through its twists and turns so that I don’t know what will happen next or is it more enjoyable to dissect the story the director is telling and try to understand where the story arch of the antagonist or protagonist is heading? Mindlessly let the movie wash over me while shoving popcorn in my face or engage my brain and come to a fuller understanding of the film’s structure?

On the one hand, the whole reason I enjoy movies is because it is a type of temporary escape from reality. It is undoubtedly enjoyable to lose one’s self in a cinematic experience, in a world that would seem impossible to experience save this window on the screen that allows us to peer into it for even just a moment. Getting lost in the story is part of the entertainment value. However, it is also satisfying to perceive a director’s use of foreshadowing and underlying storylines to fully appreciate the film’s narrative. Maybe it just depends on which movie I happen to be watching. I don’t think there’s any dissecting necessary for the next Marvel movie but if I just mindlessly enjoy a more cerebral film I’ll miss out. When it comes down to it… I enjoy the analysis and dissecting of a film. Call it pretentious (I am writing a blog after all), but I prefer knowing that I fully understand and appreciate the full meaning and workings of a film.

When it comes down to it… I enjoy the analysis and dissecting of a film. Call it pretentious (I am writing a blog after all), but I prefer knowing that I fully understand and appreciate the full meaning and workings of a film. It is so satisfying to perceive fully what the director is trying to show the audience. Some of the best movies are those I have to think on after I exit the theater and take awhile to process. When I first saw Inception, I was in the parking lot of the theater for a good half hour discussing the ending with my friends. Now the mindless blockbuster type films still have their place. I knew Independence Day: Resurgence was reportedly a terrible movie but I wanted to see it anyway. However, if I had to choose between simply watching a movie vs analyzing a movie, I’ll choose the latter.

In any case, I’d like to make the case that when it comes to reading the Bible we tend to fall into one these two categories. We sit in the pew or classroom and choose to take in what is taught with two different perspectives. Maybe we mindlessly let an Old Testament story about a world-ending flood wash over us without considering what truths this story communicates or how it foreshadows the cleansing symbolism of the New Testament baptism. My point is that as a Christian matures in their faith, it is their duty to intellectually engage with scripture and study it. Protests of varying degrees of giftedness in Biblical studies are somewhat justified but largely over-used excuses. God gave us one book. It is meant to be enjoyed. It is also meant to challenge us. If you feel scripture is anything but challenging, I would recommend a closer analysis. Let us all aspire to be better Bible scholars and prepared to give a reason for our faith.

“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” -2 Timothy 4:2 

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15