After a long week, we all love popping a film on and putting our feet up on a Friday night. With the recent release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) and the upcoming release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), it’s easy for us to escape into the story line and fantasy of a great film for two hours, when we need it.
So why is film (and television, for that matter) a great medium for escapism? Well, there are a number of reasons. Compared to the film industry of the 1950’s, there is a whole lot more on offer today. Genres are busting at the seams and there are films for every taste. Want a romantic film? How about The Notebook (2004)? Fancy a crime thriller? Maybe the classic The Godfather (1972) can satisfy your needs. With social and cultural changes there have been newer genres introduced, none so relevant as the comic book hero genre dominating the film screens at the moment. Thor (2011), Iron Man (2008), Captain America (2011) and The Avengers (2012), to name a few, show how dominant Marvel comics are. The range of genres offer audiences innumerable ways to escape into a fantasy world, no matter how realistic or unrealistic, away from daily routine.
More and more novel adaptations are being used, most famously J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. This garners a wider audience to take part in the act of escaping, but this time into their favourite novel. By adapting novels, viewers are literally seeing the world they created in their own mind. This adds another dimension to the act of escaping. A wider audience is reached and more people are able to generate their own opinions of the adaptation.
Another reason can be linked to cinematic technological advancement. Green screens, CGI (Computer Graphic Images), IMAX have all improved the visual experience for the audience. Films such as James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) and the adaptations of J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and The Hobbit heavily use CGI to mind-blowing effects. They create new worlds, once unimaginable, and make creatures such as Gollum lifelike. Cinematic advancements have allowed the viewing experience to be taken to the next level with 3D and fantastic computer detail.
Historically, film has been used as a way out, to escape reality. When you could only see one film a week, going to the cinema was a big deal. It was a time to get together with friends and family and head to the cinema to be transported into an intriguing plot line with hilarious comedy or a beautiful love story. It is a tradition instilled in culture with people still heading to the cinema to see a new film but just more frequently, with a new film out on average once a day.
Ultimately, it can be said that we do use film as a means of escape. However, this shouldn’t be viewed negatively. Our societal desire to be transported away from reality allows the creative minds of the hyena film industry to keep pushing the limits and in turn keep producing cinematic art for all of us to enjoy.
Image Courtesy: Jim Kelly (http://www.flickr.com/photos/pthread/2589508088/)