Three Movies That Changed My Perspective
Every once and a while, a movie comes along that captures its viewers and changes the way they think and see the world. The person leaves the theater all the better for having seen the film, and reflect on how it has changed them.
Then there are others who, well, just love movies.
I’m the kind of person who reflects on every movie she sees. I can’t help it. When movies have as many moving parts as they do, it’s hard not to consider them all and think about them long past the parking lot. I like the layers that movies have. It’s what makes them great.
But I will admit that, every now and then, a movie does come along that shapes my perspective. It changes the way that I see, not the world, but movies. Every movie impacts me in some way, but these three movies forever changed the way that I see other movies.
This is often referred to as one of the greatest movies ever made. I saw it towards the beginning of my movie-watching, and I still remember the experience. Our high school English teacher showed it to us (although why I can’t remember, but I’m sure it was important). I still remember sitting in my desk completely enthralled, completely tense, completely engrossed in the story of Andy Dufresne and his life at Shawshank.
Up until this point, my movie-watching was very narrow. I liked certain movies for the story, other movies for the actors, still others for the music. Movies were like light appetizers that I could take or leave. This movie felt like a complete meal. Seeing it once wasn’t enough, and there was so much to see and take away from it that I felt full for weeks afterwards. I’ve seen it a few times since then, but not enough to turn it from a complete meal to an eating binge. The day I become immune to the beauty of The Shawshank Redemption is the day I quit movies altogether.
In any of the movies I had seen growing up, there were your good guys and your bad guys. Then I was introduced to the tortured hero, the guy we love with demons of his own. I’ve seen movies of vengeance where we root for the good guy turned bad. We come to admire, appreciate, and connect with certain characters. We alibi for them when they work against their own stereotype. All that changed when I saw this film.
This film made me realize that no matter how a character is written or acted, that character is meant to be human. We’re flawed, we make mistakes. We react out of jealousy or anger or fear, and we don’t do it just to forward the plot. We do it for any reason or no reason at all. Mystic River is such a beautiful blend of everything emotional and everything that is completely human. I had never seen anything like it, and it made me realize that characters, real characters, should be like this.
Let me start by saying that this is not a happy movie. This isn’t one of those war movies that looks for a silver lining to help comfort the grief that the idea of war gives its viewers. This is a tragic and sad movie from beginning to end. I would tell you what the silver lining is, but it would be depressing in and of itself.
This, however, is what makes the film great. It’s almost beautiful in its tragedy. It’s a movie that you only need to see once, and it will stay with you. Up until this point, I had always measured the worth of a movie by how many times I could rewatch it. This movie changed all that. You don’t need multiple viewings. Once is all you need. And when you see it, you will never see war, any war, the same way again.