Has there ever been a movie that you could not watch more than once because the images depicted within were just too much for you? The truth is that they don’t make movies like they used too. For example Donnie Darko and Harvey are both movies that feature and imaginary very tall upright walking rabbit, but both movies are very different in tone and context. Between these two movies Harvey is the much more lighthearted film. Donnie Darko on the other had is a film that will pull at your stomach with some of its more sinister imagery. How does it do this though? The answer is a much larger emphasis put on graphic detail.
I remember not too long ago when District 9 was showing in theaters and I was very excited to see that movie. I had to leave the theater the first time though because I could not stomach the scenes in the movie. I remember putting one hand over my stomach and the other over my mouth when I saw Sharlto Copley pull his fingernails off with his teeth. Watching him puke up a black liquid, talk about “pooping his pants”, and seeing him eat cat food only added to the problem. Eventually I just couldn’t take anymore, and I had to walk out. I managed to finish the movie sometime later, but I made sure not to eat anything while watching the movie this time around.
This day and time there is a big push for more realistic movies because people want to not only be entertained, but they also want to be able to watch a character and say: “I can relate to that.” Has Hollywood really taken this too far though? Make up work has become phenomenal compared to what it used to be and CG makes up for what make up is not able to do. One of the goriest movie franchises of all time, Final Destination, uses mostly CG effects for their more disgusting scenes like when we see Jonathan Cherry get sliced into pieces by flying barb wire, which was one of the more disgusting scenes in my opinion.
Then there are movies with content that touches extremely deep on certain subjects. I have spoken with many Christians about their viewing experience while watching The Passion of the Christ. The most common phrases I hear are: “I just can’t watch that movie again.” or “I just couldn’t finish it.” or “There was just too much for me to take.” The Passion contains one of the most brutal torture scenes filmed in American cinematic history. Why did it have to have that? Would have as many people remembered the Passion had it not been as brutal?
Other horrific aspects of human history have been depicted in films and then stated by some as far too graphic for a person to handle. Such as the rape and criminal solicitation against Sarah Tobias in The Accused, racism and prejudiced murder in films such as American History X, and mutilation in films like 300. Though everyone responds to movies differently it is safe to say that the film industry gets away with much more than they did in the early days of film. The film Gone with the Wind was one of the first films to contain foul language within its reels, and people were leaving the theater because of the language within the screenplay. What would that generation do today if they saw films like Watchmen?
As the film industry progresses it is highly unlikely that it will return to its Little House on the Prairie days. Will movies though eventually lose its entertainment value if we delve deeper into the more grotesque aspects of human realism? No because humans love to be entertained regardless of how brutal or exposing what they are viewing is. Centuries ago during the time of Ancient Rome, long before film, people watched gladiators impale one another on swords and spears. They cheered as the undesirables of society were devoured by lions. Exhibition and Voyeurism has been going on for centuries. A few decades ago a lynch mob would gather in crowds to watch a man with a different skin color other than white hang. So what does this really say about mankind? It says one thing, and that is that we love to be entertained, and what entertains us the most is the grittiest of details and the most graphic of images that we can put out.