Monday, July 6, 2015

On films that age and books that don't

Some films are fun to watch. Some are boring. All of them differ every time you see them. That's natural. In a world where nothing is as it seems it's also natural that films age when we do. It's not unusual, after all, that the way we see a Disney cartoon now is or will be different from how we see it years later. Time can do wonders. Even with films. Same thing with books, of course, but the catch is that most of what we read stay with us no matter how old we are.

Films are different. There's a reason. Books leave much to imagination. We don't see what we read, to put it in another way. We read what we think and script in what we read. We "see" with our minds. That's why what we go through in books stays with us: because books “read” us the same way we read them.

Think about a book you read recently. Read back. Go through some chapters. Take in what they're trying to get across to you. Put it all away.

Now look at it a week later. The same chapters. Take them in. Not too different to how you looked at them before, is it?

What you watch literally is what stays in your mind, yes. Unlike books, however, these are defined and redefined every time we lay our eyes on them. Conduct that experiment I mentioned above on a film, for instance, and see how it ages subsequently.

Not that this should disappoint. In fact films are made more interesting because of this. They aren't meant to be read the way books are, besides. There's a message in whatever we enjoy as a work of art. That message sticks in different ways. The message of religious leaders, of revolutionaries, or of small-time heroes sticks to us no matter how old we are. Once this is transcribed into film, however, we remember what we see. And what we see gains fresh significance every time we see it, naturally.

Books are priceless. So are films. We read with our minds open and watch with unblinking eyes. It all amounts to the same thing, really. So there's no need to worry. At all.

Written for: The Nation JEANS, July 4 2015