Like most people, I find it relatively easy to list films I've seen. The weird ones come to mind first: the sadomasochist horror movie Audition by the Japanese director Takashi Miike, and Battle Royale, likewise from Japan.
Next, my thoughts wander back to childhood, when Disney movies such as The Lion King with its cutesy lion cubs were part of my world. Class of its own was the anime character Silver Bullet, whose lines I and many others can still recite from memory after ten years. Animations had such a huge impact on us!
Later I've been saddened, surprised and delighted by films such as Frozen Land, Kill Bill and Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain. The American Variety magazine wrote of the latter: "If Paris was laid waste tomorrow and the recipe for true love was lost, the archeologists could reconstruct both of them completely from just a little bit of footage from Amélie."
It is a beautiful thought, but not quite correct. Films depict and represent reality rather than copy it. Even if a director managed to restore the world on film exactly like he sees it, it would only represent his personal reality - all of us experience reality in our own way.
However, possibilities for different interpretations are the strength of film as a medium: it is a key that can unlock some parts within us. According to film therapist Pekka Lehto, film is both a mirror and a window: whatever the spectator experiences, or is touched by, is the spectator himself. Lehto says that the horror, anger, sorrow and joy we experience in cinema are not caused by the film, or its crew's imagination. Instead, these feelings are induced by the viewer's own emotional history, experiences and sense of self.
It's comforting yet a bit scary: when a film stirs emotions in me, this tells a tale of myself, not of the film's quality. What does it mean, then, when a big-budget action movie lets someone's feelings on the surface, shakes up his worldview and breaks down all hindrances? It means that the movie was a really good experience for him.
Timo Koivusalo´s The Swan and the Wanderer was a great film for me. Which one is for you?
Updated 23 March 2009 17:50