I recently went and saw A Wrinkle in Time and personally I thought it was a total dumpster fire for a movie. Now I could get out the baseball bat and bash this movie into the ground, but frankly I think I can spend my time just a little more productively.
So let’s talk about themes in film. Before I go on I want to make abundantly clear that I personally believe that you can make a good movie about anything, meaning that a sad movie and an uplifting movie are both equally capable of being of high quality. Doesn’t sound that bizarre when I write it out, but I still want to make it clear.
Back to themes. Those big broad ideas the are found in all movies. I think it’s incredibly important to understand the themes of a movie. If you don’t understand the themes there’s very little hope that you’ll be able to make out the purpose of a movie, and if you don’t get what a movie is trying to accomplish, how on earth are you going to be able to say if it failed or succeeded in that respect? Yes, you could just go by commercial success because that is a part of why almost all movies get made, but by that metric alone Marvel movies would be considered the pinnacle of filmmaking and come on, we all know that’s not the case.
So we need to get a grasp on a movies themes so we can tell if the movie did a good job of portraying and exploring those themes. Take for example Battleship Potemkin (1925). This movie is essentially… actually scratch that, this movie IS a Soviet propaganda piece. It’s purpose was to reassure the people of the Soviet Union that the communists were the “good guys” who liberated the people of Russia from the oppression of the Tsars. The film does an outstandingly good job at accomplishing this purpose. It does so this by doing a deep dive into themes of oppression, bravery, tyranny, and fear via the films use of montage. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know my own personal experience with Battleship Potemkin was basically that while I know I wouldn’t ever become a communist, I totally get how someone could’ve watched this film and become a communist. It’s just so persuasive.
Do you see what I’m trying to get at here? Battleship Potemkin is a films whose ideological themes I’m personally against. I know it’s crazy to say, but I’m not a big fan of communism, especially the soviets brand of it. Regardless of that though, I know that because Battleship Potemkin effectively delved into it’s themes to achieve its purpose that it’s a really good movie. I put a high value on movies that expand my thinking on a topic or give me new perspectives to consider. It’s not the only thing I look for in movies, but it’s the big one. And I think it should be something people look for more from the movies they watch. Later.