Many people talk about art as therapy. Meaning a release of emotions triggered by the tragic story told through the eyes of a painter’s subject. Or the physical presence of a sculpture that brings about a timeless beauty from a certain epoch. I know…I never really got that either. But whilst I turned to my favourite film in the midst of boredom and low levels of inspiration, it dawned on me. Art is therapy and for me the artistic medium I use is film.
Films do something strange to me. I connect with them and transcend above my living room into the realms of inspiration and make believe. For those 90 minutes I’m the furthest I can be from my unadventurous reality and I’m in the arms of tragedy, love and betrayal. It’s awesome! They force me to ask questions about myself and the world, without the fear of judgement. In short they’re my source of therapy.
As I get older, I phase out the films that I know will not carry me away from reality even for a little. I may come across annoying and extremely picky but I just don’t see the point in watching a film that I can’t connect with. I can however be pleasantly surprised with a random movie but I don’t normally like taking that risk. I guess I never realised just how important movies are to me. In the past they could shape my style and demeanour. Now, they hold a far less superficial value to me, as I’m able to draw on them for inspiration for the more worthy areas of my life.
Are there psychological links between a person and their favourite films?
Do you think there is a psychological link between a person and their favourite film? Let’s use myself to investigate this – I love gangster films! Always have and always will and if they’re historical ones…forget about it! But does that mean I want to be a gangster? Definitely not. Firstly, I hate seeing blood and secondly, I’m not strong enough to carry a horse’s head. So what’s the link? Sometimes I think it’s a Hollywood thing. They realise that gangsters sell so they hire the best actors and directors and they end up with a great film.
But could it be that secretly I wish I could create my own set of laws and hierarchy (much like the mafia but in no way as brutal) which would be independent from any existing government that seemed to only benefit corporations? Who knows? Or do I just want the champagne, 1920s lifestyle as glamorised by the TV series Boardwalk Empire (the best ever might I add).
It’s just escapism, nothing more, nothing less.
I get this argument, I really do. For example I like the film My Cousin Vinny because it just makes me laugh. But why would your favourite movie just be escapism? In my opinion if you’re using a movie to attempt to change your mental state then you are, by definition, entering the realms of psychology. For example, if you’re disgruntled with work life or the predictable mundane weekends, you may turn to your favourite movie: The Pirates of the Caribbean. You may do this for some out of context, straight up adventure! But maybe that’s not a coincidence. Perhaps you desire some adventure in your life to improve your state of mind. Therefore the movie has given an insight into your psychological state. You could be crying out for some adventure. On the other hand you may just like pirates.
What about those who love the romcoms (everyone has their favourite)? The link may be obvious – everyone wants to fall in love in a humorous and serendipitous way. But could it be that we watch romcoms to trivialise love as something make believe and only for the movies. Could this be because our real loving experiences are far from that? Perhaps they’re more complicated, gritty and tiresome. Also could some people watch romcoms as a way of laughing off love as something only to be found in the movies, when in fact, love can be found in the real world without a script, crazy coincidence or a cringe rain scene in place.
Why biopics are my favourite form of film therapy
If we’re discussing film therapy then for me, I need to look no further than biopics! Take the films Gandhi, Malcolm X, The Social Network etc. They represent the best therapy for me because they inspire! You feel like you can do anything and what’s great about biopics is you can’t say its all Hollywood make believe because they’re based on facts (more or less). So you get the drama of Hollywood combined with the real history of an event or inspirer. Perfect!
Films as Interior Design Therapy
I’ve also seen neatly shelved DVDs used as a kind of interior design therapy. I suppose just the mere sight of them represents a potential escape from the trappings of the day, without even having to watch one! There is nothing more aesthetically pleasing than a bookshelf filled with alphabetically, categorised classics! If I was more disciplined and put DVDs back in their correct cases I would do that!
Film Therapy for Couples
Instead of couples therapy think about how much you can learn from each other when discussing a film. I’m referring to discussions that require the both of you to think emotionally. It could give you an insight into each other’s values. Can they show empathy? Are they more ruthless than you expected? Do they eat 70% of the ‘shared’ popcorn after originally telling you they didn’t want any?
We could also learn from the mistakes of the film stars and save ourselves from any future conflicts. If communication is a problem then you could use the protagonists as mediums to find out how each other may be feeling. Sounds a bit far reaching but I think it could be a great starting point!
I also think that asking a person what their favourite film is on a first date could be very insightful, providing they’re honest. If you feel they are lying to impress you then it could mean they care. If they give you a film that completely throws you off then you may have a night of interesting discussion. Either way I think it’s a good question.
I’ve always wanted to use art as therapy but now realise I had it all along through film. It’s interesting to delve deeper into your film choices because it could reveal something interesting about you without the cost of paying to see someone professionally. I understand those who feel that films are just used to entertain and that there is no need to look any deeper into your choices, but being a fan of philosophy compels me to do so. Have a think and comment below, your findings could surprise you…
As always, thanks for reading.
The Young Philosopher BCN