What is it to have a great cinematic experience? As much as the art it derives its existence from, a great cinematic experience is subjective to its very core. I have read various testimonials of couples on the internet talking about how Norman Jewison’s Moonstruck made them fall in love with each other. I, on the other hand would readily make a case that watching a submarine fight while sitting on a beach would be a far better way to spend one’s time than watching the same movie in question.
In these few recent years during which I have fallen madly in love with this art form, the question of how a movie is perceived differently by every individual has hounded me persistently. And it’s not just confined to either a negative or positive response. Even to this day, the lovers of Francis Ford Coppola’s haunting masterpiece Apocalypse Now are debating whether to hail it as a pro or anti war movie.
One of the most pivotal and obvious reasons a movie may allure some and parry others is primarily because of its subject matter. A person who hasn’t gone through heartbreak may not think twice of Marc Webb’s (500) Days Of Summer after having seen it. However, it will stand out as a favorite of one who has experienced this heart-wrenching ordeal because the movie illustrates his life situation, which induces a personal experience for him in the cinema hall rather than a mere steady flow of 24 frames per second.
Another factor causing a major divide among the audiences is one’s perception of cinema itself. A friend of mine who lives a floor above hails Micheal Bay’s Transformers as the greatest movie he has ever seen. This opinion of his was obviously met by me with great dissent and inept sarcasm (Micheal Bay is so dumb he got locked in a grocery store and starved). But the more I think about it now, I don’t see his opinion to be flawed at all for when he walks into a cinema theater, all he expects to take from it seems to be unabashed entertainment which Bay seems to offer.
And as I realize now, I could go on and on about the various factors which seem to be responsible for this psychological phenomena, but none of them would be a concrete factor which one can consider the principal reason for a person to either hate or love a movie. In the end I truly believe, a movie is to a person what he is or has been.
But, dear reader, it was your inquisitiveness towards my own personal experience which brought you to this paragraph. And the answer to the titular question is a relatively well-known movie from Paul Thomas Anderson titled Magnolia. Why ?
Because after watching it, I knew the movie had changed me irreversibly, but I had no idea how. Many of the meaningful moments in our lifetime seem to ascertain themselves with deep, life changing philosophical depth, but somehow, the most important among them always seem to evade their greater meaning from us, as if to make us revisit and learn from them from time to time.
One of my greater fears I have as a human being is I have depleted my quota for the emotions a human being feels in his lifetime and what I am feeling now is just lesser version of what I have already felt. But after watching Magnolia, I knew I was feeling something deeper than anything I had felt, but I also knew I would never have the words to describe it.
For me watching Magnolia wasn’t just a cinematic experience, but more or less, a life experience. And a profound one too.
(Share your greatest cinematic experience and your thoughts on the different perception of movies in the comments)
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