Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Standards for film

So I don't keep you waiting for long periods of time I decided to post something else. This was a paper I did for my film class explaining my standards regarding movies. These reflect my personal thoughts and opinions regarding cinema. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I got a really good grade on this paper so I hope you enjoy as well:

One of the things I love to do is to view movies. I enjoy good stories in all formats and I try to find those that match certain criteria I have. One of the biggest decision makers I have is that I will not watch a movie that is rated R. My reason for so doing is that my parents have taught me that R rated movies do not conform to our standards. Reading the reasons why they receive that rating will also usually tell me that I will not enjoy it. If a movie has people hooking up I will try to avoid it because I do not like filling my head with images that I know are against my religious beliefs and I don’t want what I see to form my opinion on how I treat my fellow men. Earlier this summer I went to see The Lone Ranger with my dad and youngest brother. However there was one scene that had a really disturbing moment that could be taken as violent. I have seen some movies with violence in them. However I think that how something is portrayed and why will be a big decision factor in me deciding if I like a movie or not. For example even though the Lord of the Rings films have a lot of violence in them I think they portray war as something very dark and evil and not something to be celebrated. Same with the film Thor where at first he wants to launch a war only to have his opinion change at the end of the film because he learns that war isn’t something to be desired. Something that I like to do more with films is to try and see if they can be used to teach life lessons like honesty, virtue, courage, and faith. I also enjoy seeing movies that are fantasy stories or have dinosaurs in them because those are some of my biggest interests.
            This summer I went with my brothers to see Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. It was based off the second book of a series that I had enjoyed reading. Even though I had been furious with the first film adaptation I opted to go see this movie because it sounded like they were trying to correct some of the errors of the first film. I was furious because of how different The Lightning Thief was from the book. However recently I did a blog post asking if movie adaptations should be the same as the books. That was pretty much the only film my brothers expressed interest in seeing because the other options I was considering were Turbo and The Smurfs 2. I had seen some of the trailers for the film and I was a little nervous about some of the things they showed like the encountering of Kronos and falling into the mouth of Charybdis. However I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t judge movies without giving them a chance. The only exceptions are R-rated films and some PG-13 movies because I don’t like seeing material I know goes against my religious beliefs.
            Apart from being based off a book I liked I also saw it because it has strong fantasy elements due to the series being inspired by Greek Mythology. For some time now I’ve been interested in the fantasy worlds of strange creatures and mystical forces that seem to define worlds separated from our own, or in the case of this film hidden within our own. Some elements from the book were taken out yet they managed to portray some of the creatures from the book in a very interesting way. The hippocampus was designed to have the head of a horse and the body of a fish and instead of the front legs of a horse it was given fins instead. Although it would’ve been nice if they stayed true to how the book described the creature a movie isn’t supposed to be the book. It’s an adaptation and one should expect differences between the two.
            I did see several moral lessons contained within the film. One of the biggest issues that the main character, Percy Jackson, had to deal with was his confidence. Even though in the last movie he stopped a war between the gods it seems that not everyone has that event memorized. The head of Camp Half-Blood, Dionysus, seems to disregard Percy and views him as only good for cleaning up the training ground. When a hero is being chosen to go on a quest for the Golden Fleece, Percy is overlooked and the camp’s superstar, Clarissa La Rue, is handed the mantle.  Percy throughout the film gets the feeling that his father, Poseidon, doesn’t care because when Percy tries asking him for help his pleas seem to go unanswered while his Cyclops half-brother Tyson gets his request answered. Eventually Percy shows us that we don’t have to just sit around and wait for things to get better. We need to do things to make our situations better.
            There was also another lesson that could be learned on forgiveness. Percy’s love interest, Annabeth Chase, has a hard time connecting with Tyson because he’s a Cyclops. While one could argue that was being racist it was because in Annabeth’s past a friend of hers was killed by a Cyclops. I generally dislike it in stories, whether they be books, films, or TV shows, where the character chooses to hold on to a grudge because to me that sends a message that people should hold on to grudges and not forgive others. However when a person forgives in fiction I feel better because it shows they are willing to let the past go and not hold another person accountable. In the film Tyson seemingly sacrifices himself to save Percy that causes Annabeth to realize that Tyson was not a monster as she perceived him to be. She learns to forgive him.
            For a long time I had the idea that film adaptations should stay one-hundred percent true to the books. When I learned that Disney changed the name of a film from Rapunzel to Tangled I was furious and felt like it was going to be a horrible movie. After a while I realized that I had gone against a saying and judged a book by its cover, or in this case a movie by its title. After that I decided to give Tangled a chance and walked away loving the movie. I did a blog post not too long ago about movie adaptations of books and if they should stay the same. I think that we should keep in mind that there may come a time where a story may have to change and adapt for a new generation. If it doesn’t it may not survive. Besides is there only one right way to tell a story? If you answer yes to that then many films that have been huge successes should be hated because of how different they were from the original stories.
            I generally try to avoid movies based off of Greek mythology because my readings about those old tales are loaded with “hook-ups” as the film adaptation of The Lightning Thief put it. Even though that was part of the mythology I don’t believe that it gives us the right to show or make those kinds of movies. Still because I’ve read the books I know that is not going to be the focus of the films. They don’t go beyond the characters saying that one of their parents is a god or goddess. So far I’ve been right. My only hope is that they’ll continue to hold true to that. I was also surprised at the lessons I saw could be learned from this film. I wasn’t expecting to see so much in the story. I was wondering after I came out of the theater why I wasn’t feeling outrage like I did with the first film. I would say it was because I wasn’t expecting the movie to be a strict adaptation of the book. True I wish some of the things done in the film were closer to the book yet I did not focus on those details. I still found the story to be very enjoyable and having a strong foundation in the plot of the book. I will try to keep an open mind about films and not judge a movie by its title.
            I think maybe one way I can do that is to think about why certain things are done or why they show certain events. For example I mentioned earlier that The Lord of the Rings films show war as a horrible event. I also remembered The Avengers also had that message about war, and I also saw lessons on the dangers of pride and jealousy through the antics of Loki. I think if a film advocates something I know is wrong I won’t enjoy it or watch it. However if it has a representation of what I know is right I may enjoy it. It will vary because I think the movie Avatar shows war as a horrible thing yet I still did not like the movie because I didn’t like how the Na’vi were portrayed. I do not believe that we have the right to show primitive people with really scanty attire. I just do not feel comfortable with that. True the reason could be that they’re down to earth and don’t know any better. However I still feel that it’s not right for anyone to create a race like that. True the mermaids are portrayed in a similar fashion in The Little Mermaid yet I still feel it’s an okay film to see because the original story was a Christian tale. I guess in the end it’s up to me to decide if a film fits my standards or not. 

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