By Tarun Chandy
Movies that Move
You ever have those moments in the middle of SCA where you stop for a second, take a step back and say, what the fuck am I doing? You might be googling something weird in search of an insight, or in a prolonged conversation about potentially creating beer out of dead people’s DNA. Or you might just be sitting on the tube trying to explain the complexities of advertising to someone who obviously couldn’t care less about anything you’re saying. But suddenly, it’ll hit you. And you’ll recognise how typically “SCA-like’ the moment is, laugh to yourself and then just carry on doing what you’re doing.
I had a moment like that early on in this week, and I thought I might be able to pull a decent SCAB out of it. I was flipping through Netflix looking for something to watch and getting frustrated at having seen everything already. Before I realised what was happening, I was listing SMP’s of all the movies I’d seen. And, as the process goes, I recognised what I was doing, laughed and then kept doing it. I did it for movies that weren’t even on Netflix until I began to develop this theory. That no movie could be truly impactful without an SMP. Just to clarify, when I say SMP, I don’t mean an ‘elevator pitch’ of the movie’s plot line. I mean the one underlying message that the story leaves you with. The idea they’re trying to force into your head like cinematic inception. If they do it right, that idea will haunt you for months, influencing your opinions and maybe even your behaviour. But if they do it wrong, they’ll try to say too many things or absolutely nothing, and the movie will be nothing but short-lived entertainment.
Let’s go through some popular ones. Good Will Hunting is for some reason the first good movie that comes to mind. And it might seem like a complex plot with a lot of deep and distinct character arcs and themes. But, at the heart of it, it’s just about priorities. About the need to know exactly what you want out of life, so you can live accordingly. They reiterate that message in about five different ways, and never try to say anything else. That’s what makes it so powerful. If you haven’t yet seen it, you’re missing out on a journey to introspection.
Another good example is Shawshank Redemption. This movie focuses entirely on highlighting the injustice within the justice system. On garnering sympathy for the inmates and the impact that their sentence inevitably has on their lives. That’s why the ending isn’t a celebration of the brilliance behind Andy’s escape, but rather a sigh of relief. They needed to ensure that the most memorable part of the movie was the poor old man committing suicide. If not, we’d all have gotten our happy ending and completely missed the point.
My explanations for each of these got a lot longer than I anticipated, so I think I’ll just do one example of a movie without an SMP and then try and wrap this up. Were any of you unfortunate enough to watch Birdbox; the Sandra Bullock movie that came out recently on Netflix? That is a movie that failed as a narrative because it didn’t know what it wanted to say. There was so much to the plot line. Metaphors being developed. Weird patterns beginning to unfold. For a moment there, it really seemed like they were on their way to making a point. And then, they gave their audience the most indiscriminate ending I can remember ever seeing. My only takeaway was to always read a couple of reviews before boldly venturing into another Netflix Original.
Anyway, I encourage everyone to try this with their favourite movies too. If you can’t find that one overarching message, I strongly believe that you’re either not looking hard enough or you just have really shitty taste.
The copy scores 67.5 in the Flesch Reading Ease test