Movies: Choices in Relationship Building

This topic has become a more serious one for me of late. I’m aware that what goes into my mind in any form has consequences for my mental, emotional and physical health so I do what I can to guard those parts of me.

The room is dark but the glow from the computer monitor reflects off surfaces throughout the room. We are spellbound and immovable, except to push pause and rush to the kitchen for more snacks. We have both hopped into another world, another time and are making memories, living vicariously through the characters in our chosen story. We are engaging in 21st century binge watching. In recent years I have done this with both daughters during visits to their homes.

Eons ago when they still lived at home, lots of movies were watched. Julia’s room was more of a theater than a place to sleep, with a projector on a ceiling mount and a sheet for a screen. Friends coming over to watch movies was a frequent event. We didn’t have hours upon hours of a single story available, so we often watched the same two hour movie over multiple times. It still amazes me that they can quote a good portion of Princess Bride, or certain episodes of Mystery Science Theater, or Monty Python. Useful phrases like “anybody want a peanut?” should forever be available at a moment’s notice. Fun times.

What a character. I love him.

Then came mini-series and shows online with no commercials (yay!). Often the girls would have something that they were wanting to watch and we would do two or three hours at a time some evenings. The stories often had an historical bent or exciting plot that we couldn’t wait to get back to. Watching “Victoria”, “The Man in the High Castle”, “Poldark”, “Larkspur to Candleford”, “Madame Secretary” and “Downton Abbey” all have produced memorable times in my relationships with family members. It is easy for me to recall the details of sitting and watching with them, and discussing how it made us feel.

What I have to admit is that I don’t watch much on any screen the last few years and am pretty ignorant about what is out there. For a long while I grew weary of looking for movies that had content good enough to balance out the violence, perversion or superficiality also included. It was disheartening, and a waste of my time.

I think that is the important question for me – is it a waste of my time? I have decided to be very discriminating in what I watch when with others or alone. Like reading a good book, a good movie can be a wonderful way to escape my own problems and thoughts for a limited time. What really adds to its value though is watching with someone else and using it to build relationship.

Because movies are a reflection of the culture they come out of, and some are made with intent to influence, I always try to be aware of that with anything I watch. Even when controversial, movies can be starting points for some interesting discussions. Discussions are part of being relational, and getting to know others, so in that sense they are not a waste of time, but a tool.

Another consideration, cinematography has gotten so much better and more complex that it is sometimes the main focus of a film. Sometimes the realism is frightening. Sometimes I have to ask if a movie could actually be detrimental to healthy relationships. This is where discrimination is important.

Summing it up, movies and film in general are a big part of the world we live in and we end up making decisions about how we use our viewing. These stories and images can be a fun, interesting, educational tool in building our relationships, or something other than that. I’m glad that we do get to decide. Just sayin’…

Best movie you’ve watched recently?

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