POP CULTURE: What Is Cinema For?

Cinema is the most prestigious cultural
activity in the modern world. It is for us what theater
was in the age of Shakespeare, or painting was in
the days of Leonardo DaVinci. The art form with the biggest impact,
the largest budgets, and the most widespread audiences. Collectively, we recognize that film has
an astonishing power to induce emotion. But it would sound weird to stop and ask
what film was really for, what purpose it serves in our societies, and why we spent
so much time in its presence. We don’t generally think of films are serving
any very strenuous or serious cause. We ask for a lot of nice
but not terribly lasting things of films, to while away the hours
of a long flight, to keep the family together on the sofa, to give us a bit of a thrill. This is a great loss for us
and for cinema itself. We should try to pin down more accurately
what films actually do for us, then make sure we’re reliably making
and finding our way to see the best, that is, the most useful kinds of things. We would ideally accept that film,
like all the other art forms, best reveals its power, when we
conceive of it as a kind of therapy. Let’s consider five key problems and
how films can help us with them. We’re understandably prone to self-pity. We get ground down and frustrated
by the problems life throws at us, and we tend to react by
getting ever more stern and serious. Certain films can beautifully
address this natural tendency, when they show us people not
too different from ourselves, in difficult situations,
except very much unlike us. These films play our pains for laughs. They seek the absurd side, the exact things that really great
with excessive seriousness. At their best, there’s nothing trivial
about these comedies at all. They take on the momentous task of sweetly etching us towards being
slightly nicer people to live around. 2. We’re not careful enough Sometimes in life,
an action that seems quite small, goes on to have enormous consequences. You tell a little lie.
You steal a tiny bit. You’re a bit dishonest with someone. You get a bit lustful and
carried away just once, and then from this, catastrophe ensues. Films can help us by speeding up time,
and showing us in a matter of hours, fearsome result of what we might
originally thought of as small failings. Film can push the consequences
to the maximum. By witnessing horror and disaster it can make us want to
be the kind of person, who is a touch more forthright,
and little more honest and moral, readier to face an unpleasant moment now
and (thereby) head off a distant disaster. We leave the cinema, less inclined to be
self-righteous about the failings of others scared for ourselves and more
respectful towards things we hold dear. It might sound odd, but it’s usually very healthy and helpful, to feel that one’s life is a bit special, deserving of admiration and respect,
a little glamorous. But very often the opposite is the case. Glamour lies elsewhere, in the lives of
the famous in swankier parts of town, in activities and jobs
far removed from our own. Film has an enormous power to glamorize. It can put in front of our eyes
delightful images, many meters in size, shot an extraordinary colors,
vivid and immediate. Because so many films
glamorize the wrong things, we used to thinking that an element of
alienation and corruption is a generic, rather than incidental danger of cinema. But in fact, film is well able
to show us the less obvious, but real charms of everyday life. Whereas the worst sort of films
eject us back into our lives, full of longing and disenchantment, the best ones leave us ready
to re-engage with circumstances, with which we had unfairly grown bored. Cinema can help us love and
appreciate what we already have. It’s not entirely our own fault. The media is to blame for much of it. Because it tells us about categories of
people we want nothing to do with, places that seem frightening, bizarre,
unremittingly depressing. We going to think we’re not at all
interested in people in Iran or Venezuela. Our disenchantment make it expressed as
racism, arrogance, or just plain coldness. Ultimately, what we suffer from is
a denial of our common humanity. Cinema can perfectly compensated for
this withdrawal of emotional energy, by showing us the appeal of
people far away, we’d otherwise be
completely uninterested in. With the highest artistry, we’re reminded of an obvious
but so easily forgotten fact. Our membership of the family of humanity. We’ve gone so far down
the track of teaching ourselves about the importance of
gentleness and compromise. Many of us have unwittingly develop
problems around courage and self-assertion. Decent people have learned so well
to suppress their own appetite for a fight, their own desire for victory. But in a world where
conflict is unavoidable, good people sometimes need to strengthen
their willingness to face down opposition, not always to compromise and play it safe, but to take risks, to get out and fight,
to relish victory, and to be a bit more ruthless in the
service of noble and deeply important ends. Sometimes, it’s not enough
just to be right. You also need to win so some of us
might well benefit from seeing films, that tell tales of heroism to follow
someone who has to navigate the world, kill a dragon, outwit some baddies. The film shouldn’t ideally leave us just
in awe at the daring of another person. It should do that for most valuable thing. Educate us by example, so that we too become just a little more
heroic and brave where we need to be. Cinema, as we currently know it, is not a million miles away from
doing wonderful things. But in order to help with
the real business of living, we need this hugely compelling
and powerful art form to set out in a more determined
and systematic way to offer us the help we really need. The way we categorize films should
ideally get a little bit more subtle. Rather than say something was
merely a thriller or comedy, we’d put the accent on what these genres
might achieve for their audiences. Instead of suggesting that one needs to be
above a particular age to watch a film, the government classification board
would see its primary task is that of helping a film to reach
the audience it could best help. Thus a film might be rated A, meaning that it was regarded as being
particularly good at getting us to address and cope with anxiety. Or it could have an MC rating, meaning that it was of benefit to
those experiencing marital conflict. Films can do so much for us. They better direct
our feelings of sympathy. They offer comfort for
our unmanageable fears. They correct an unworkable sense
of what is normal. They edge us towards good conduct. They caution, and arm us
against our folly and vices. We should, as society, be ready to
see them as more than just entertainment. They are, at their best, guides to life and
pieces of spectacular applied philosophy.

100 thoughts on “POP CULTURE: What Is Cinema For?”

  1. Here is a list of movies that I have found very helpful:


    -A Bronx Tale, by Robert de Niro.

    The most important line from it is:

    " The saddest thing in life is wasted talent".

    Everything about this movie: the story, the music, the acting, and most importantly the morality in it, everything is wonderful!

    2. ON DEATH:

    Alain de Botton tweeted this the other day:

    " Death as a source of confidence: to learn to frighten ourselves a bit more in one area to be less scared in others."

    So, to gain more confidence in this sense, I mean in order to scare yourself properly, here are three movies:

    -Ikiru, by Akira Kurosawa
    -Once Upon a Time in Anatolia , by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
    -Wit, by Mike Nichols ( with the amazing Emma Thompson! )


    -Mean Streets, by Martin Scorsese
    -Leon the Professional, by Luc Besson
    – "Mask" by Peter Bogdanovich ( Cher won the best actress award in Cannes for her amazing acting. I loved the biker gang in this movie! )
    – Angst essen Seele auf ( Rainer Werner Fassbinder )


    Watch these three before you decide whether you want to get married or not. In fact, we could put them all in the category of " horror movies" too:

    -Scenes from a Marriage, by Ingmar Bergman
    -Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf,by Mike Nichols
    -Before Midnight, by Richard Linklater


    -Training Day, by Antoine Fuqua
    -Music Box, by Costa Gavras
    -The Act of Killing, by Joshua Openheimer


    -After Hours,by Martin Scorsese

    ( It is a comedy though! If you don't identify with the poor guy, you will laugh a lot! )


    -The Ax, by Costa Gavras

    ( This is a comedy too, but the message couldn't be more serious)



    ( Excellent German movie on Neo Nazis. The English title is " Combat Girls". )


    -El lado oscuro del corazon,by Eliseo Subiela ( All the lines in this movie are poems, but it doesn't sound pretentious at all! People loved it in Argentina! The poems are by Mario Benedetti, Oliverio Girondo and Juan Gelman )

    -The Silence, by Mohsen Makhmalbaf ( It is on youtube! The entire Makhmalbaf family, the mother, the father, the son, the daughter, they are all filmmakers! )


    -The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    -Cyrano de Bergerac
    -Alexis Zorbas
    -The bus driver in "A Bronx Tale"


    -Analyze this
    -Analyze that, by Harold Ramis

  2. Was the background music used around 1:55 an instrumental version of Brick + Mortar's "Voodoo Child"? They sound really similar.

  3. I think movies, books, music, TV shows, games or any art is the only thing that develops our ability to think and to become better people, more open minded, more accepting of people and things. Art passes on ideas from various generations and the good ideas hold true even after centuries. Reading those ideas in forms of books, watching them in forms of movies opens up our mind to the vast possibilities, makes us think, contemplate and thus, become better people with more understanding abilities. Art is, I would say, what grows us spiritually.

  4. Films are more than this They are also escapism, mass mind control, mass programming, and secrets about life and conspiracies that the elite cannot tell us openly but they can use fiction to tell us subconsciously (e.g. the matrix movies).

  5. I actually think that television, at least in the US, provide the kinds of things that this video desires from cinema, which, due to its higher cost and financing model in the US, takes far fewer creative risks. Shows like Atlanta, Orange Is The New Black, Transparent, Better Things, Fleabag, Crazy Ex Girlfriend, Shameless, Black.ish, Bojack Horseman, Insecure, High Maintenance, Silicon Valley, Masters of Sex, etc. all take our world and, in theory, reflect it back to us in a way that can help us grow as individuals.

    There is certainly cinema that does this as well, but it seems to be sparser, with a lot of the better quality stuff being somewhat inaccessible due to slow pacing or somewhat formulaic, and almost all of that is impossible to find outside of an art-house theater or VOD (which is kind of TV). It could be argued that this is analagous to TV, in that very little of what is on the broadcast networks (mainstream cinemas) is of redeeming value, but far, far more people have access to basic and premium cable and streaming services than they do to art-house cinemas.

  6. I've been an unconditional fan of the Alain de Botton for a bit over a year now. But recently, this perspective of seeing everything in life as a therapeutic tool is kind of freaking me out. Learning is awesome, but i'm starting to go through life thinking either "how does this thing or person educate me?" or "who am I educating doing this and how?". That's in my head all the time about anything. At first it seemed like an ok idea, but I'm starting to feel like it isn't…
    You see, I think happiness is – or ought to be – a side effect to life. That's why people so desperately need 'life to have meaning', 'to be part of something bigger', 'a purpose'… I believe if you focus so much on not being anxious, that's when anxiety really hits. If you wanna throw a baseball really fast or have an awesome looking garden, the best parts of life will hit you when you least expect it… and that's when they are their tastiest
    I'm all for trying to revolutionize stuff so that they can help people persue one type or another of relief or emotional growth, but to try to find the usefulness of every little bit of life makes the whole package feel useless.
    You can look at a movie – or anything – and grasp how it transforms you. What I have a problem with is the constant lurking to find room for improvement. You should watch a movie "just because", and later, analyse the shit out of it. However, the first consumption or exposure can't be pragmatic. If everything has a function you expect them to acomplish, you're either going to be disappointed (when it doesn't get quite there) or bored (when it does).
    "A life unexamined is not worth living"… but you gotta live before you examine, or else you go crazy.
    Life isn't an illness. So why should every part of it heal a symptom?

  7. 2 recent masterpieces shown here: Leviathan from Russia and Two Days, One Night, a Franco-Belgian social realist production.

  8. Fantastic insights as to what film should be. It's a pity the major player in production is the US releasing mostly superficial mindless junk.

  9. Lots of people in the comment section seem to have this idea that the majority of modern films are made by Hollywood studios that don't have any interest in maintaining the integrity of the medium, but that isn't really true. If you are willing to look past the selection of movies that are most popular and have the highest marking budget, you will see that there is a practically limitless reservoir of great art and entertainment available to you. Also the most popular works in basically any modern art form are often the most accessible, so naturally it makes sense that a significant portion today's blockbusters don't attempt to challenge their audience emotionally or intellectually. Great movies are being released almost every day, you just need to look for them.

  10. I think most of this isn't just cinema, it's the stories they tell. For example, the same happens with literature. It's just that cinema is the most popular form of art atm.

  11. What the video talks about can relate to any other media from novels to video games. So the details are more broad than what the title would like you to believe.

  12. Much as I enjoy this video, being a huge film fan myself, I hope that TSoL might begin documenting specific filmmakers just as you have been for philosophers, sociologists, literary authors, artists, etc. There are many, past and present, whose work express constant themes, how we live and attitudes toward living which would be fascinating to explore. Such as Jean Renoir, Yasujiro Ozu, Eric Rohmer, Terrence Malick and many many others.

    I would love to see such videos exploring filmmakers from the humanities perspective. 🙂

  13. Film is my fucking life.
    It's where i escape from my tragic life, i forget it, i am elsewhere in some parallel world of dreams.
    Film and music saves me.

  14. So, TSoL should made a new rating system for a movie. You have A for Anxiety, MC for Marital Conflict, please provide more. And we could make same comunity based Rating system where everyone could vote the rating of the film based on TSoL guidelines. I think that would be great, considering how greedy Holywood and any other major film production nowdays.

  15. The point of films is primarily to entertain (whether with action sequences, emotional drama, or creepy horror doesn't matter) – nothing more, nothing less. Anything else is just a bonus.

  16. "What is art? Like a declaration of love: the consciousness of our dependence on each other. A confession. An unconscious act that reflects the true meaning of life – love and sacrifice."
    – Andrei Tarkovsky

  17. This video pretty much explains why I enjoy anime so much. Anime is niche that only few millions of people enjoy but I feel like it invokes more emotion out of me than other entertainment mediums could ever do. Don't get me wrong I love movies and video games as well but for different reasons. I feel each medium has the potential to invoke emotions in their unique way and all the medium have not hit their fullest potential, with the expection being movies.

  18. I loved your theory on the purpose of film. This is how I feel about film too, it should educate and improve our lives. Well done.

  19. I enjoyed seeing the montage of clips from several classic films. There is still artistic cinema being made. It just takes some effort to find it.

  20. In my hometown of Bern in Switzerland, there is a shop in the lower oldtown, who goes by the name "Doctor Strangelove's Video Pharmacy". The guy who owns the shop named himself after the character in the movie of Stanley Kubrick "Dr. Strangelove, or how i learned to stop worriying and love the bomb". He rents out movies and will give you advices on which movies you should watch considering your problem. This guy has done exactly what you were describing in your video for 7.5 years =)

  21. Thanks for reminding me why I used to love watching movies. All those hours spent on the classics such as Dr. Strange Love, Life of Brian and whatever I watched. It was the sheer joy of trying to understand the emotions and the aesthetic aspect of the films that made me love them so much. I should start watching again.

  22. Weirdly, I justify my excessive screen time with these arguments already, but earlier in the year I read the Catcher in the Rye and am trying to find a way out of this logic.
    I have been wasting way to much time looking up at a a movies, shows, and Youtube videos and not enough time with my head bent down in a book.
    I do believe that some stories are best told through films, though, and I guess that's what keeps me from giving up this habit.
    I'll find a way and the will to water it down soon enough, though, because it just takes a good book and the effort to start it to make a step in that direction.

  23. Love the use of the Minas Tirith/Gondor theme during the part on needing to be brave. A more stirring piece of music there never was!

  24. great work guys! wish I could just broadcast these for everyone to watch.
    i'd love to come across more pop culture videos for they're very relatable and eye opening.
    lots of love.

  25. I forgot what movie it was but they had a really good interpretation of what cinema meant to them. They said dreams lasts for about an hour or so (or i guess the process of dreams in sleep). And it's like you're in a complete trance when you're dreaming. It's the same in movies that have almost the same time length so when you're watching a movie, it's also like you're dreaming and escaping the real world.

  26. Great video, I'm really learning a lot from this channel. Also, the movie industry is currently in its most perverted state since the suits (Producers) have all the power when it comes to making movies (they buy the team, the plot and the rights), causing people to become artist purely for selfish reasons (Money, Fame, Power), leading to a whole generation of bad movies (remakes, commercials (Minions) and movies with enough visuals to cover up the plot) to cover up how dead the wasteland of drug-fueled Hollywood really is. The only way to win the game is not to play it: create art purely for the sake of creating art.

    tl,dr: DON'T SELL OUT!

  27. I'm surprised this channel doesn't do videos on certain directors and films, the work of Tarkovsky is certainly as profound as any great piece of literature.

  28. right because kids should be allowed to watch rated 18 movies and people would feel even more invited to watch films according to the issues they adress.
    "wanna watch a movie?"
    "sure which one?"
    *states title of movie
    "isn't that rated MC? is there something you want to tell me?"

  29. the point about film showing us the consequences of actions that we at first thought to be small and insignificant, really applies to black mirror.

  30. I'm not Jewish but whenever I visit Germany, I avoid taking the train, subway or high speed rail. You never know. #GermanDeathCamps

  31. What is the music that starts playing around 5:40? I recognize it but can't place what movie it's from.

  32. Omg BEST part of the LotR soundtrack around 7:00 !!!
    Those movies helped me stay alive in my rough teenage years.
    Right back to those fandom feels <3

  33. I still havent found a reason to watch cinema.
    My commom sense tells me what is right and what is wrong.
    And there so many activities in real life that can make you a better person like helping the homless in need and no wasting my time and money in fron of a dead screen and fake life as many people do its comfortable and make you happy as spending time seeing the nature around us how god created many types of plants and animals and they way they live.

  34. YOU ARE ALL FU,cinema has nothing to do with life it just your stupidity which makes you think that you are getting something and this movies destroyed tiny bit of cultures of some countries,Because you people don' t know nothing about life when u try to find what is LIFE you will be at The FINAL DESTINATION it is all because an individual is trying to aprroach LIFE in a wrong way and I know It will take much time for everyone to understand what i commented here and don't waste your time on this silly cinemas,films,movies and u must have noticed some people in the trains,buses or in home when they are free listening to music it is also a waste of time because just think y r u listening music bcoz u don't know what not to do. thank u that's it in this comment.

  35. Mike Haneke said that art doesn't change the world, but makes it a little more tolerable. And no one knows cinema better than Mike!

  36. This video was AWESOME! I loved the way they recommend rating movies based on the emotional needs they help the viewers with. I've often wished for such a rating system, so I can know which movies help with anxiety the most, as I have a lot of anxiety.

  37. In my opinion film is the most important art medium. It combines the visual, the literal, and the auditive to express a certain emotion that the filmmaker felt. It can transports us to worlds like or unlike ours with characters that are flawed like us, that we can sympathize with, that reflect us. Film communicates through dialogue, performances, color, lighting, music, framing, composition, editing.

  38. Since a very young age, I´ve had a deep passion and love for the art of filmmaking. I believe cinema is the most influential art medium in society, as well as the most transcendental. Films transport us to worlds like or unlike ours, where we are presented to characters with flaws like us, we sympathize with the character; these characters reflect ourselves. Film is the only way an artist can express emotion through color, lighting, composition, framing, sound, music, performances, editing and dialogue. Film combines the visual, the auditory, the literal to craft a piece of art that can touch the heart of someone, somewhere for the better. We rely on film.

  39. Film: a couple of actors who memorize texts and are then filmed reciting them. My money and my time are too good for that.

  40. I had a number of years when I stayed at a distance from films. Music was what spoke to me for a long time. When I was 29 and having a hell of a time in every aspect of life, I locked up my music studio in the middle of the summer and mysteriously answered a call to put on some really heavy films. Deer Hunter, Saving Private Ryan, Platoon, and a couple harrowing flicks about nuclear armageddon. And others still. It took a lot of cinematic jackhammering to get to a part of myself that needed desperately to grieve loss in a way I never knew I needed. To see more clearly the woman who was about to become my wife a year later. It got worse before it got better. I had a critical tipping point a while after this cinematic binge. Almost called it quits. But that was really the thing that got things turning toward something real in life.

  41. The only thing I think he should have brought up in this video is that some films do not fit into these catrgories at all and are propoganda. Then he should point out the criteria for what makes a film propoganda. I think one of them is if they are politically driven

  42. I'm doing my assignment on society and film and your video really helped me a lot man. Thank you so much. This channel deserves much more than this <3 never stop making this videos.

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