31 January 2007

Can films influence our lives?

The recent film ‘Blood Diamond’ attempts to influence our ethics, our sense of morality, as consumers while selecting a diamond for purchase (see my previous post). Does it stop us from buying diamonds? Certainly not. It only persuades us to choose a legitimate diamond over one that emerges from a conflict zone, such as those from the mines of Sierra Leone where thousands of the poor shed their blood, sweat and tears to search for diamonds which hope to transform their lives.

‘Blood Diamond’ is an example of a new breed of films, like ‘Syriana’ (from Hollywood) and ‘Rang De Basanti’ (from India), which are likely to influence our lives. Going back 25 years, a film like ‘Gandhi’ had done something similar. It not only presented a point of view of one man’s struggle for his country’s independence from British Rule, but also reflected the sentiments of an entire nation against colonialism. Its message of nonviolence has been universal.

Or, going back another 20 years before that, to a film like ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’ which brought to surface the deep-rooted racism and injustice that prevailed in a small town, and in the hearts and minds of the White people, in the United States in the 1930s, and helped usher in a sense of equality for all citizens in that country.

Films like these and many others, and the books and stories that these films mostly originate from, help us understand events, emotions and human predicaments through the ages in various parts of the world, which we have no knowledge of or may never encounter in our lives.

Sometimes films, like fiction, have greater powers of persuasion than actual social or political debates, or protest marches, or strikes, or violent uprisings. After all, they shed no blood. Yet, they use the mechanisms of speech and drama to communicate their messages, to empathise with the experiences of those who lived and/or suffered – whether the films depict real-life people or fictional ones – to influence our minds and bring in changes in our attitudes, emotions and in our lives.

In short, to help us believe that, if we try, we can find solutions to global problems… even to those in our localities and in our families. Yes, I do believe films can influence our lives.


Anonymous said...

So Do I...I remember one in special: 28 days, staring Sandra Bullock, the definition of insanity: Do the same thing, in the same way, expecting a different result... that made me thinking!

runawaysun said...

Anonymous, thanks for visiting my blog. Glad you agree... and believe in the idea.