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Philosophy in Film
The film industry has tremendously grown in the present times especially due to the grown of technology as well as positive embracement of the film products by most individuals across the globe. In addition to this, most governments, both the developing and the developed ones have been promoting the film industry not only due to the huge revenues that they gain from the industry, but also from the level of knowledge that these films provide to the consumers. Films are in various forms, including comedy, drama, horror, fiction, documentaries, historical, adventure among others. In connection to this, there have been a strong argument concerning whether films do offer knowledge to us or not. Some individuals perceives that some films (fictional films to be precise) are made up and by this definition, they do not tell us the truth about our world and therefore, they rarely provide us with knowledge. Others perceives that films, just like other forms of art, do offer us knowledge even if its factual knowledge such as how people dressed or behaved at some point in the past. This paper pays high attention to the argument that films offers knowledge to the audience, especially if the latter has the potential to relate or comprehend the truth being revealed or conveyed within the film.
Films helps the audience to comprehend or relate to real life situations in numerous ways. For example, the acquaintances or predicament of the main characters in the film tends to be some aspects which usually occur or are experienced in the society. For example, in the fictional drama film, Mr. Nobody (2009), the main character, Nemo Nobody at one time was living with his mother in Montreal, who was at that time had an affair with another man (Harry) other than her husband. At this time, Nemo falls in a love with a girl by name Anna and pledged their lives to one another. They came to realize later that the two are step siblings since Anna was Harry`s daughter (Jaco n.p). Though they later got married to each other especially after Harry broke up with Nemo`s mother, the occurrence of such scenario is common in the contemporary society. There are numerous cases when couples realize they are related when they have not only fallen in love, but also married or having children.
In the reading Film and Knowledge, Bruce Russel stipulates that through one of the fictional films he managed to learn a lesson in Human psychology, a lesson that could be an intentional signal, a request for knowledge and at the same time a statement of fealty (Bruce 385). Similarly, the audience happens to gain knowledge which they were barely unaware through clear examples that are stipulated in the fictional films. The knowledge in form of a clear example in a film can even be more legible than the ones that might have been surrounding an individual on a daily basis. For example, in the fictional drama film, Mr. Nobody, Nemo`s parents had divorced when he was only 15 years and each went to separate ways, and this is a clear indication that divorce is part of the society no matter how it tries to discourage and condemn it. through this divorce case between Nemo`s Mother and father, any individual gains insights concerning the factors which contributes to divorce, and how it affects the parties involved and more so the children. In addition, in the film, Good Will Hunting, the Twenty year old Will Hunting of South Boston is also a perfect example that the screen print of this film have use in order to communicate important themes to the audience. For example, Will`s behavior of fighting a gang together with his friends for bullying him when he was a kid and the consequences which followed is a great lesson to the audience. Precisely, through watching this film, the audience can comprehend the consequences that are associated with assaulting others within the society, and this includes imprisonment, huge fines or both. Actually, almost every person might have even been bullied when he or she was young or may have been offended to the extreme of contemplating revenge but through Will`s predicament`s, he or she might change his mind of revenging.
Moreover, films also helps the audience to have a point of self-reflection as stipulated by Karen Hanson in her article on the relations between philosophy and film. Through self-reflection, the audience manage to judge the characters in the film depending on their level of comprehension of the film (Karen 395). For example, Nemo narrates his life story from childhood to when he was at the age of 118, revealing the challenges and best moments he has gone through all along in his life. Similarly, through this dramatic fictional film, each of the audience gets a point of also reflecting the challenges and achievements that he or she has gone through in life. Through self-reflection, the audience manage to learn instances that they have made mistakes in life, and can change to the better by watching a films that relates to their past, just like the film on Mr. Nobody. Despite the fact that not all scenes in the film that relates to the life of the audience, the philosophical knowledge can be gained in the instances where the film effectively relates to the life of a particular audience. In addition to this, it is worth noting that each audience will contemplate the message in the film more effectively in the scenes or instances that relates to their past.
In addition to this, Thomas Wartenberg also stipulated about the aspect of the self-definition in relation to films. Precisely, films helps the audience to re-define themselves in various spheres such as behavior, socialization, approach of life activities, career, education, relationships among others. For example, in the film, Good Will Hunting managed to redefine himself through throughout the film. For instance, initially, despite Will being rebellious to others, he changed to the better through the various encounters that he encountered in the film, and this self-redefinition ranges from character, approach of life, socialization and career. Though in some situations his mode of self-redefinition was facilitated by individuals whom he associated with, his association with them helped him to change to the better. For example, at the start of the film, Will is portrayed as a self-taught genius but worked as a janitor at MIT and he was spending most of his free time drinking with his friends. As a self-taught genius, he ought not to work in such a position and career, and should not have gone to the extent of being addicted to alcohol. However, with time, he gained self-redefinition especially through the help of Professor Gerald Lambeau and Dr. Sean Maguire. Professor Lambeau helped Will from being jailed on condition that the latter would agree to study mathematics under his supervision (Professor Lambeau had noticed Will`s high level of intelligence especially in sciences) and agrees to participate in therapy sessions. Dr. Sean Maguire, a psychology lecturer at Bunker Hill Community College succeeded to challenge Will`s defensive mechanisms that he had portrayed to the previous therapists managed to enable Will to open up, and this made him to change to the better.
Moreover, films provide an education function of memory on desire, as stipulated by Thomas Wartenberg. According to Thomas, the educative function of memory is equivalent to the manner in which a young child learns not to fulfil his or her desire to touch a burning candle (Thomas 557). Precisely, a young child does not only need to remember the pain of being burned, but also how it happened. Similarly, films makes the audience to remember some things that occurred to themselves or their close relatives or friends in the past, but also learn how to evade such a situation especially if it entails a bad experience. For example, in the dramatic film, Mr. Nobody, Nemo remembers how later met Elise at a school dance and fall in love with her. At that time he was living with his father, who later became disabled. When Nemo went to Elise`s house, he met her with her 22 year old boyfriend (Jaco n.p). The frustration and experience that he encountered at that time was one of the worst scenario that occurred in his life. On seeing Elise with her boyfriend, he speed away on his motorcycle, and this made him to be involved in a fatal accident which did not only left him hospitalized in a vegetative state but also being unable to speak or move. The educative function of memory on desire in this case entails hastening to fall in love with someone without seeking preliminary or background information concerning him or her. Similarly and as aforementioned earlier, Nemo`s predicaments in this situation is just an example of what majority of individuals in the society goes through in life. Based on the fact that lust and infatuations are some of the major aspects that are leading individuals, especially the young generation into various forms of challenges, every audience can as well gain insights concerning the educational function of memory on desire. Through the film, the audience can not only remember what they have ever experienced in the past, but also remember what learn not to encounter themselves in similar situations in future.
Moreover, in his article, Bruce Russell stipulated that it is unjustified for one to argue that the lecturer or journalist has failed to communicate knowledge to his or her listeners or students because he or she has left out the students to find the supporting evidence on their own. As long as the lecturer has communicated the main thesis of what he or she is teaching, is the similar way in which the script writers communicate knowledge to their audience. Precisely, the audience are explicitly or implicitly invited to ascertain whether or not the film has something that relates to their current world or conveys a particular knowledge to them. A journalist writes a piece on the op-ed page of a newspaper in order to educate his or her readers concerning something he or she has personally experienced or heard from other sources. This is the same way films, whether real life or fictional tends to do to the audience. Films can certainly alert viewers about facts relating to the world which the audience were initially unaware of were dimly aware about them. The different is that every viewer will comprehend the various instances of the film in a different manner. For example, the manner in reference to the dramatic fictional film, Mr. Nobody, some individuals may learn that divorce is part of the society no matter how people try to discourage it while others may learn about the consequences of anger as revealed by Nemo`s reaction after finding Essie with her boyfriend (Jaco np).
Moreover, no matter how an individual may claim that films rarely offer knowledge to the audience, it is worth noting that knowledge is intuitive, and it all depends on what one is anticipating to learn from a film, or what he or she likes in a movie. Bruce Russell stipulated that even a simple film has non-verbal means of communication that is portrayed by the characters in it, and the non-verbal signs are part of knowledge that one can gain (Bruce 385). According to Bruce, films can provide individuals with empirical discoveries even when they do not provide the evidence themselves. For example, when Professor Lambeau was strongly encouraging Will to excel and go for the job interviews that he (Professor Lambeau) had arranged for him for positions that might prove challenging even to his immense talents, Will can be seen refusing to give in to the intentions of Professor Lambeau. His nonverbal sign of nodding his head was a clear indication that he was not willing to go for the job interviews. His actions of nodding his head is by itself an aspect that the audience can learn, especially those who never knew that nodding of the head simply means ‘No’. Another instance entails when Sean was explaining to Will how he has been unwilling and unable to even contemplate another romantic relationship following the death of his beloved wife who succumbed to the severity of cancer. The nonverbal forms of communication from Sean can clearly be seen by the audience.
Moreover, the love between Nemo and Anna, that of his mother and father, as well as that of his mother and Harry also enlightens the audience concerning the dynamics of love. Nemo and Anna separated when Anna`s father separated with Nemo`s mother and migrated to New York. With the hope of re-uniting with Anna, Nemo started working as a pool cleaner and it is at this time that they passionately reunited and exchanged contacts. In addition, after exchanging contacts and promised to meet at the light house two days later, it is unfortunate that Nemo lost Anna`s contacts (Jaco np). Their relationship was coupled with a number of other misfortunes, including learning that they were two step siblings. Despite these misfortunes, they finally ended up together as a married couple. These misfortunes among individuals in love were also stipulated as an aspect that the audience can learn in a film.
Bruce Russel. Film and Knowledge: Part III.
Jaco Van Dormael. Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Jared Leto, Sarah Polley,Mr Nobody 2009. Accessed from, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMaw7brjQQQ
Karen Hanson. Minerva in the Movies: Relations Between Philosophy and Film.
Lawrence Bender. Good Will Hunting ‘Full’Movie’1997’. Accessed from, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gX15s0WScYU
Thomas E. Wartenberg. Film as a Philosophy.