No one will argue that cinematography is one of the most popular types of arts today. Millions of people cannot imagine their lives without a regular movie at home in a family circle or visiting a premier in a cinema. The one thing to agree about is that movies are able to have a huge impact on human minds. From this idea, two opposing points of view emerge. One of them states that movies are simply part of entertainment industry, so they have to impress and amuse people. The other point of view is related to the necessity of having a social message. Indeed, the second opinion looks more reasonable because they are the medium which can make the world a better place.
Since movies became part of show business, a question about their role has been debated by sociologists and psychologists. There are genres such as horror or action movies, which are considered to be purely entertaining. These movies can be amazing in terms of their budget and special effects; they can capture the viewers’ attention completely. However, can these movies be called successful just because of their interesting form? It depends on what is considered the criteria of success. If success is measured by creativity of its authors, then in some cases such movies can be called successful. On the other hand, the true success is the ability of a movie to transform people’s mind and urge them to act in a positive way. On the contrary, movies that contain the scenes of violence are said to have negative impact on human behavior. They can shape the psychology of cruelty or lead to depression.
Ten years ago researchers were worried about negative impact that movies can have on social standards and values. Thus, in 1993, the article named “Hollywood's Poison Factory: The Movies' Twisted Image” condemned the industry for propaganda of destructive values:
The fundamental problem with Hollywood has nothing at all to do with the brilliance of the performers, the camera work, or the editing. In many ways, these things are better than ever before. Modern films are technically brilliant, but morally and spiritually empty. (Medved)
The researchers claim that, for instance, movies destroy family values and cause the increase of divorce. It is stated that presenting marriage as a nightmare is able to change social norms about this institution.
Another point that is worth discussing is that movies that have a strong message are usually more powerful than purely entertaining movies. For instance, if an Oscar winning movie Crash(2004) is considered, it is impossible to deny that due to the issue of racism that is considered, it is remembered for a longer time than hundreds of movies shot just for fun. If a movie is entertaining without a strong message, it can still be successful but not for a long time. There are examples, though, that movies like Avatar that are absolutely amazing by the way they are produced in terms of visual effects, but at the same time they have a clearly positive message that is able to change the world. For instance, in Avatar people are taught to love the planet and treat it like their mother. After watching this movie, people might start thinking that they would like to stop being consumers in relation to the nature. So, in this case the magic power of cinematography is used for the sake of people, although the movie is entertaining at the same time.
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The opponents may argue that if movies stop being entertaining but be an instrument of education, they will stop attracting the audience. Partially it is possible to agree with this point of view, but the idea about what is meant by “entertainment” is to be discussed then. First of all, it is clear that a good movie can combine perfect form with a deep message. Entertaining does not mean being shallow and having primitive humor. Such kinds of movies also have the right to exist but they can never be as successful as issue-oriented movies. Secondly, each type of movies is aimed at a certain audience, so the task of the authors is to present the information in the way that will be understandable to their viewers. The message does not have to be complicated to be understandable. In the same way, the movie does not have to be boring to be educating. Because movies affect large groups of people, their effect is enormous, and is enhanced by involvement of large groups of people. Watching movies just for entertainment can be a good idea to relax but movies can do much more for a human being. Movies can inspire, they can motivate, and they are able to open people’s eyes to a lot of burning problems and give them enthusiasm to solve these issues.
Overall, it is hard to imagine today’s life without movies, they became part of reality and illusion. One of the favorite pastimes, they are an excellent way of entertainment and relaxation. At the same time, in this case the potential of cinematography is not used at its full extent. It is clear that movies are not only part of show business and art but also social phenomena. Only in case they raise important social or human issues, they can be truly successful for a long time. No matter if they deal with the theme of war or moral choices of an individual person, such movies are able to leave a lasting effect and make the world a better place.
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