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  • Writer's pictureJames Meyer

The Power of Film

“When I looked at life through the camera, I felt like I could finally see it.” — Katherine Howe

Almost everyone has a precious memory of when a movie touched them deeply, that somehow resonated with their soul... it's all that you could think of for days or even weeks afterwards.

Film-making is an over 40 billion dollar industry in the United States that has grown and expanded over decades and has been integrated into many people’s day-to-day life. From the excitement of big-screen viewing at movie theaters, to the intimacy of living rooms, people are obsessed with movies. And, films that were originally created to provide entertainment are now routinely referenced in classrooms, sermons, and mental health offices as positive tools for therapy and education. Movies are much more than entertainment.

Prof. Dr. Samuel Pfeifer, M.D. has a psychiatry practice in Switzerland. He has witnessed the impact movies have on his patients.

One question I ask a person is, 'When have you last wept?' And, very often, they say, 'When I watched a movie.' So that shows us the power of film… it can tap into our emotions and can bring out deep emotions to the extent that we are even weeping. I think that movies are a very strong tool to reach people,” explained Dr. Pfeifer.

To be entertained, people want the story to get behind their defenses to engage their emotions and enlighten them. Stories intrigue us because they exercise our wit as we try to deduce the plot as it unfolds.

The goal of a filmmaker is to reach the audience, to pull them into a new or different place. A true filmmaker wants to make the audience feel emotions. When their efforts pay off, a film can be powerful, challenging the audience to ponder life in a new way.

Through film, viewers explore life through another person’s eyes, getting a better grasp on what it means to be human and to be alive. They can see struggle, determination, and survival and know that they aren’t alone, they too can make it through.

Our need for story feels almost primal at times. Films are visual dreams on a screen. Visions and dreams are the language of the spirit. Music is the language that stirs the soul. Motion pictures combined with powerful music bypasses our intellectual defenses and engages us at a deeper level. Even the most abstract film shines a mirror on humanity in some way. Films have a way of reaching the deepest corners of ourselves and challenge us to really live.

Written by: Sarah Bubke

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