The Language of Film

The moving image is truly a powerful medium indeed. Motion pictures have often been used throughout history to manipulate the masses. When done correctly, or rather successfully, films have the uncanny ability to influence or alter opinions & behaviors of the audience in ways that the typical viewer may never fully comprehend.

Filmmaking, at its core, is a science of deception.

Think of the Nazi propaganda films that were able to whip an entire nation into a fervor of elitism and hatred. On some level, films can be crafted to be extremely compelling and yet instantly believable to huge numbers of intelligent people — far more than any news story or book ever could… But why is that? It might be easy to argue with words on a page, but be it truth or fiction very few people can refuse what a motion picture is saying or, at the very least, implying.

To understand the psychology of film — its language — one must interpret the combination of a film’s content, composition, editing, and many other elements in relation to factors of human perception such as visual & narrative understanding. For instance, certain story devices or editing techniques that might be used to “play” with the audience. The best film directors, therefore, are the ones who have mastered this form of visual storytelling and manipulation on emotional and psychological levels. Much like the film director genius Stanley Kubrick had, I believe that the Coen brothers have indeed learned to use this form of visual manipulation so well that they can simply play with the emotions of the audience members like stringed puppets.

So, then, do the Coen brothers ultimately use their world class powers of filmmaking for good or evil? In a strange way, maybe popular films are sort of uniting mankind, it’s just too bad that tobacco products were always complicit in the whole deal. I mean, just think of what these Hollywood big shots could do if their job was to inspire peace and happiness or solve problems around the world rather than to make tobacco commercials.

Throughout the history of the motion picture industry, Big Tobacco has maintained an underlying goal to put cigarettes into the hands & mouths of likeable celebrity actors in mainstream films and therefore into the hearts & minds of the audience. I’m guessing that statistics have probably shown since the invention of “talkies” that when cigarettes appear within the actor’s spotlight it is far more effective to the tobacco industry’s bottom line, and that seems to be all they care about. Big Tobacco & Hollywood really did form up the perfect partnership long ago. Remember, Hollywood may be a billion dollar industry, but I’m guessing tobacco is a trillion dollar industry. Probably even a gazillion dollar industry, whatever a gazillion is.

It’s also amazing how fast film technology has developed over such a short time. Get it? Film, developed. For instance, picture and sound quality has improved so much that seeing movies on the big screen really is like being there in the room with the actors. Add in the magic of music and sound effects and compelling stories and you really have something special. But suddenly, when you begin to combine all of that magic with subtle messages and subliminal advertisements related to tobacco — that is when you’ve gone too far. I mean, shit man, kids are watching (and trying to understand) these Hollywood movies. What kind of messages should we be sending them?

[ need stats for age groups of movie audiences ]