Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How do you "use" movies?

Here's an interesting reflection from a Tribune columnist about disaster and war movies. I was struck by the comment by a Columbia College film professor who said, "disaster movies are essentially biblical stories.... nature wipes out the sinners and the ones who remain are redeemed."
Reading it, I was reminded of something I learned while stationed in Rome in a very international little community. Though four of the sisters were Italian, two of them were missionaries on a sabbatical. In total, the community had come together from Italy, Portugal, France, Congo, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela and the U.S. (The Malaysian sister who was supposed to be in our community ended up with a complicated fracture--so we visited her in the hospital.)
My room was near the living room, and one of the sisters used to watch TV quite late. The sound effects were barely muffled by the thin walls, and the movies generally seemed quite violent. This troubled me. As Daughters of St. Paul, we're supposed to be offering reparation for the misuse of the media, and I couldn't see how watching violent programs fit in with that. So I asked the sister about it.
This sister was the missionary from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At least, that was the most recent name given by the nation's leaders. Until just a short time before our year together, it was still "Zaire." Sister had been stationed in Kinshasa when civil war broke out. The community used to barricade themselves on the upper floor every night during the bombardments, dressing in as many layers of pants as they could in order to thwart would-be rapists. In the morning, they would sweep pieces of mortar shells off of the rooftop terrace and place them in a bowl in from of Our Lady's statue. They saw indescribable atrocities happen in the streets right outside their convent. When some stability came, and sister was able to return to Italy for retreat and a bit of recovery, she found that in some inexplicable way, movies depicting war, fighting and disaster helped undo some of the trauma she had undergone in real life. I know of another sister who found that Steve McQueen  movies helped her work through the traumas of her past. I loved that nun, but I couldn't stand sharing movie nights with her! (Not that I am a movie person, myself; for me, movies are just an excuse to crochet or eat popcorn.)
What kind of movie watcher are you? Do you "use" movies?


Anonymous said...

Channel 59 down here offers movies from the forties and fifties. Really good acting and from what I understand a lot of the kissing was faked and couples were not filmed in bed together. Then there are the other channels, but few of that caliber.

windowinthesky88 said...


I never though of using movies before. I kindof just liked watching movies (mainly old movies, disney movies, and saint movies). I, too went through trama in my life, but would never use movies to ease that, it would in fact more so trigger that trama, and so I tend to lean away from films like that, unless it is about a Saint then I watch it because it is about a Saint. But that is my opinion. Many prayers to you and God Bless. Nikita

Anonymous said...

Not much beats the Jane Austen flicks we girls stay up with--Pride & Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nikita,while the distraction of movies may help some people to cope with unpleasant life experiences, judging from your photo, there seems to be a plethora of loving arms just waiting for an opportunity to embrace and comfort those in need.