I recently saw the movie “Contagion” at the theater and was thrilled for two reasons. The first is I don’t get to go see movies very often during the semester and the second is because it was a very well-made film. Now let me explain.
There is something to be said about realism in a world which loves to play up everything on a daily basis. Some won’t like it for content or pace but that’s fine. The real world is like that, which is why most people go to the movies in the first place. They want to get away from their daily pace and see a world only a real dreamer could create.
I am the exact opposite. When I watch a movie I want it to be real. I want to know just how likely it is for the events in the movie to happen to me in my lifetime. The more real they are, the more I really like the movie.
That does not mean I don’t enjoy something fantastical or out of this world sometimes. But I don’t go to see giant robots seriously pretending to be cars.
Realism is the best, in my opinion, because it invokes the scariest and most true nature of ourselves. Sure, “Contagion” could have been an apocalyptic thriller about a world dying from an incurable disease. But I didn’t want to watch “The Stand.”
I want something more out of my entertainment and that is the utter horror and pain of real life scenarios. There was no unnaturally gross dying scene or any sort of car chase from authorities.
In fact you could argue the movie was slow and incomplete. My question is: What’s wrong with that? Throughout life a lot of the major world events that affect us may seem slow and incomplete at the time they happen. A good portion of the world dying of a disease does not come with a solid final. It does come with a lot of unanswered questions.
Those sort of fulfilling answers are made for the unreal movies and something I find unsatisfactory in the end. That is not to say life cannot have its happiness and fulfillment. But on the subject of larger world issues those two ideas never make an appearance.
Most of the people I have met who have a dislike for the realism found in movies are also those with an aversion to realism in their own lives. Not to say there is anything wrong with someone else’s film taste. But as a general observation I have not found too many others who enjoy coming to the end of a movie and love it because it touched so close to home. Many who get that message from a film usually have an aversion to it altogether.
I have always wondered if that is because they just don’t want to face the truth in this world we live in or if they really are turned off by reality in movies. I would say the former but only because I am a realist. Or maybe just a really good liar.