Strange Ways By Which Movies Influence Society

Do Movies Influence the Society or Are Movies Inspired by Society?

This is indeed a question akin to which comes first, the chicken or the egg? What is the connection between movies and society? Do movies inspire society or vice versa?

MoviesMy view is that it is a two way process. Movies are an artist’s view, depiction and understanding of events/incidents/happenings in society and in human lives, which may be depicted in various forms. Movies are an expression of the past, present and even the future, and hence they are a tremendous influence on us.

They serve to open our eyes and minds, to perspectives which we would not otherwise be able to visualise in our single dimensional lives. Movies, express their central objectives through the use of drama, through music, and gestures and role play, which may sometimes be more impactful than even books, because they are ensuring that our various senses are focussed. Movies can disturb us, profoundly change our way of thinking.

How can we appreciate movies?

Yes, movies can definitely influence our society in both good and not so good ways. Research has shown that movies can influence our potential for good but provided that you reflect upon the content and meaning of what the movie wants to say. The characters represented in movies, can inspire heroism, kindness, endurance, patience and other such qualities, provided that the initial feelings sink down in you to the extent where it stimulates you to take action, either on yourself or your interactions with others. Hence reflections are essential for a movie’s influence on you and how well it is able to make you reflect or engage in thinking is a measure of the director’s skill. For.e .g. Dead Poets Society is one such film which inspires people to take responsibility for their lives. There are films based on epics such as the Lord of the Rings which emphasise the power of great qualities like teamwork,bravery, leadership and many can identify and be inspired with the characters.

However, movies can also be a negative influence and can create opposite feelings, nurturing feelings of hate and revulsion as well as encouraging unwanted behaviours example the town inspired a spate of robberies, where people focussed only on the action instead of the meaning of the film. This is also found in case of films which by showing certain behaviours, profoundly influence the teenagers.

Movies That Were Inspired by Real Life Events

MoviesEvents and personas in real life have most often been the inspiration for many major movies. One such film was All the President’s Men which was based on the Watergate scandal, which resulted in Richard Nxon’s resignation. The film also depicted the workings of the newspaper industry and how the strategy of two undercover reporters led to the exposure of the truth. The film also represented an example of collaboration between the print and visual media, to ensure that the print media was realistically portrayed. Another film which represented the realities and negative aspects of the Vietnam war, through the experiences of a recruit was Born on the 4th of July. Some films were inspired by stories of hardship and endurance and the triumph of the spirit such as A Beautiful Mind and My Left Foot.

Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List was a magnificent and compelling movie, which depicted the story of how one man saved the lives of thousands of jews during the time of World War by employing them in his factories, an act of unexampled kindness, which could have cost him his life. The film brings to life how the light of humanity can continue to burn even in the darkest atmosphere.

Movies That Influenced the Society

Let us look at some movies which influenced society. Some movies can influence people negatively and be the motivator of great evil. As for instance, Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will is considered to be one of the most influential propaganda films of all time as it inspired many Nazi germans to return home in hopes of making Germany a great country, and a leader of all. Some films are powerful enough to ensure that injustice is remedied and justice is obtained for those who had been denied of it. An example is Errol Morris’ Thin Blue Line, which was so powerful that it resulted in the freedom of an innocent man, who had been condemned to death. Some films raise awareness of critical issues such as related to mental or physical health and disabilities. As for instance, The King’s Speech raised awareness about stuttering and the consequences on the lives of those afflicted with it. Its protagonist was a stutterer.

Other documentary films raised awareness of global issues such as global warming as well as the truth about events which impact the world on a massive scale as for instance the September 11 terrorist attack. These include an Inconvenient Truth and Fahrenhiet 9/11 Some highlighted the miseries in different countries owing to various social and economic practices, as for instance how the sale of diamonds resulted in bloody conflicts in Africa and hence the name of the film, Blood Diamond.

On the other hand, there were movies which inspired negative events in society. The film Natural Born Killers, led to the greatest chain of copycat killings, in which the killers openly claimed the movie as the inspiration for their actions. The list of killers included those behind the Columbine killings as well.

Thus movies are based on what happens in the vista of the imagination or in the real context surrounding us. Be it real or imaginary, movies certainly influence us and can inspire or motivate us in different directions, depending on our propensities. In turn, society is the groundwork for the movie and hence provides a continuous source of inspiration for the creation of influential movies.

Image source:

By Vitagraph Studios [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Corbis Images


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