The Power of Film

Just ran across an interesting Q&A-style interview with Ken Burns, one of the United States’ best-known documentary filmmakers. He opened himself up to questions from Time magazine readers, and one of them asked what drew him to filmmaking. This is what he said:

My mother died when I was 11. Several years afterward, my father let me stay up late at night to watch movies on TV, and I watched him cry for the first time. He hadn't cried at her funeral, and I suddenly at age 13 or 14 realized the huge power of film, that here was the place that he felt he could express emotions. I vowed right then and there that I wanted to be a filmmaker.

As I say, pretty interesting.

Plugged In talks all the time about the power of film. Often, we talk about it in a negative connotation: How violent films can desensitize us to violence, how sexualized films can make us more sexually active, etc. But films aren’t inherently bad: They’re just tools. And it’s how they’re made (and how we watch them) that determines whether they’re helpful or hurtful. And sometimes they can be downright cathartic.

I admit it: I’ve cried in a movie. Have you?