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?

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Lisbeth:

The most recent movie that made me cry was Armageddon.  The scene where Harry calls his daughter Grace to tell her that he's not coming back to Earth (because he's staying behind to blow up the asteroid) and that he loves her so much...I was in pieces during that scene.  And then the wedding at the very end while Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" is playing...that made me start crying again.  Now, every time I hear that song, I always think of Armageddon and I am always fighting the tears.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  JawboneHill:

I disagree actually.  Visual images are inherently more emotional, and therefore are different than written or spoken words.  Burns story validates it. 

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Jesussaves7193:

Oh yes, movies have made me cry.  I do like it when movies are so emotionally moving that I cry...I'm not usually much of a crier.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Ted_Slater:

Of course I have, Paul. I even choked up at the end of Wall-E   :-)    Not to hijack your discussion, Paul, but I blogged about how TV and film are simply a medium to communicate a story. And stories have been with us since the time of Adam.