Movies and Moral Helplessness: Reblog

While ostensibly working hard on a project that must be completed in no less than two weeks, I entertained a brief diversion which I rationalized because it took me to the very deep Circe Institute blog. There I found Joshua Gibbs interviewing his rationalizing alter ego on the subject of indulging in big budget films.

In this particular case, he is dissecting his decision to go to the theater and watch Jurassic World 2, which we also saw. I’ll post a portion of it here, but the whole thing is worth the short period required to read it.

In the lobby of a local cinema, I was approached by a journalist conducting interviews.

INTERVIEWER: Excuse me, sir, would you mind telling me what movie you’re going to see?

GIBBS: Uh, sure. I’m about to see Jurassic World 2.

INTERVIEWER: Very good. And why are you excited to see this motion picture?

GIBBS: Oh, I saw the trailers for it and I thought they looked pretty good.

INTERVIEWER: Would you say this looks like a life-changing movie?

GIBBS: (chuckling) Well, no. Of course, it’s a dinosaur movie. I’ve seen plenty of them, and they aren’t exactly life-changing.

INTERVIEWER: Perhaps you don’t think movies can be life-changing?

GIBBS: No, that’s not true. I’ve seen a few life-changing movies. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia changed my life back when I saw it in 1999. But there are scores of classics, too, which have changed me for the better. Ordinary People. Ace in the Hole. Babette’s Feast. I definitely think a good movie can make you more humane, more understanding. To understand all is to forgive all, as the French say, and God will forgive us the way we forgive others, so a good movie can certainly have great spiritual value.

INTERVIEWER: But not Jurassic World 2?

GIBBS: No. I’m only seeing this because—

INTERVIEWER: Well, perhaps Jurassic World 2 is going to be very memorable. It will not change your life, but you will dwell on it, ruminate on it, nonetheless. A film doesn’t have to be great in order to be of value. When you leave the theater this afternoon, how long do you think you will ponder Jurassic World 2?

GIBBS: Ponder it? Um, you know, probably not for very long. There’s really not much to ponder. To be honest, I’ll have probably forgotten I saw it by the time I wake up tomorrow.

INTERVIEWER: I see. Well, perhaps the really great movies that can make you a better person are hard to track down? Great things are rare, after all.

GIBBS: No, actually. There are plenty of really great movies I could check out for free at the library down the street. Great movies are easy to come by.

INTERVIEWER: Yes, well, I am sure you’re not seeing a great movie this afternoon because you’ve already seen them all, correct?

GIBBS: Well… No, that’s not the case. There are scores of great movies, or movies that I’ve heard are great, that I haven’t seen. I haven’t seen many Kurosawa movies. I haven’t seen Ran or Seven Samurai, but people rave about those pictures. I haven’t seen any Tarkovsky movies, though I’ve heard Stalker is amazing. I don’t know Ingmar Bergman’s catalog very well, though people always say Wild Strawberries is very beautiful. They say the same about Yasujirō Ozu’s movies, like Tokyo Story. My mother doesn’t like foreign films, but she says she always cries at the end of Tokyo Story because it’s so profound.

INTERVIEWER: Apologies, sir, did you say you could get these great movies for free at the local library?

GIBBS: Um, yep. Yes, I could.

INTERVIEWER: And how much did you just pay to see Jurassic World 2?

GIBBS: Eleven dollars.

INTERVIEWER: Sir, I don’t want to misrepresent you, so I would like to make sure that I have your story straight: You could easily and cheaply acquire beautiful films which you would remember for a long time, change your life for the better, and grant you a more human and forgiving spirit, but you have instead decided to pay eleven dollars to see a dinosaur movie that will not make you a better person and which you will entirely forget about in just a few hours?

GIBBS: (sense of moral helplessness intensifies)

Sigh. Squirm. Maybe that’s just me.

Like I said, read the whole thing.

And enjoy the rest of your weekend.

8 thoughts on “Movies and Moral Helplessness: Reblog

  1. stmichaelkozaki says:

    My last theater movie I’m pretty sure was Gibson’s Passion of the Christ in 2004 (and it wasn’t that great, would have preferred video). I honestly don’t miss public movies. Interestingly, most of my kids have never even been to one…the internet and the liberal takeover of movies has made the movie theater obsolete for us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elspeth says:

    We saw JW2 because our girls sprang for the tickets and invited us. We don’t frequent the movies but we are a comic book family so DC and Marvel get us every time.
    What I do go to see with no existential angst are historical films: Hacksaw Ridge, Dunkirk, Darkest Hours, Finest Hours.
    We (me and one of my girls) make a date of those. We are the only history geeks in the house.


  3. hearthie says:

    I like a good silly movie from time to time, but mostly I only pay to see movies in the theaters as a family thing – once or twice/year.

    Being entertained has value. NOT as much value as our culture places on it, but value nonetheless.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. stmichaelkozaki says:

    I’m curious: what is he draw of the theater vs watching at home? Is it the social part, laughing and crying with so many other strangers, or the screen size, or the sound, that you can’t easily leave so are committed for the duration, or something else? I’m trying to figure out what I’m missing…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. hearthie says:

    The very few movies we see on the big screen are better on bigger screens.

    And sometimes we’re just trying to come up with something to do outside the house with teenagers as a family thing minus tons of planning or crowds. Lots of the latter here.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. stmichaelkozaki says:

    Thank you both for those answers. I never even thought of either, and they each make more sense than my motives.


  7. Elspeth says:

    For certain, every one of the historical films I noted except one (Darkest Hours) was better big screen

    Also, I only saw Hunger Games at home, but I recall your thoughts about the books visual imagery and think it might have been very good on the big screen.


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