Movie-night Catharsis

by Charlie Ridgewell
Published: Last Updated on

I have always had a love of cinema and games. And this is something that has only grown stronger over time. My taste has progressed to become more varied, however, and I now watch everything from superhero films, like 2008’s The Dark Knight, to 2020’s The Last of Us Part II—a heavy tale of loss, self-destructive grief, and trauma set in the context of a world rotting at its seams (a fitting metaphor for the characters descent into darkness).

Cinema has always had the capacity to make us feel a wide range of emotions, from laughter in films such as Wallace & Gromit to fear in Hitchcock’s groundbreaking Psycho. But for me there is no feeling that films or games can invoke more than sadness.

A film like Schindler’s List—a true story about the horrors of what humanity is capable of—has impacted generations. It had an immense emotional impact on me when I watched it, and I have no doubt that it did on others, too. In part, this is due to its realistic depiction of events, which rightly shock and move its viewers.

Cinema therapy allows us to use the effect of imagery, plot, music, etc. in films on our psyche for insight, inspiration, emotional release or relief and natural change. (Birgit Wolz, PhD., MFT)

The above quote talks of cinema therapy: a “real therapy” that is often prescribed by therapists, in which cinema is used as a form of self-help. According to its exponents, even watching sad films can make us happier—by and by, that is—in so far as they can help us to put our own dilemmas, anxieties, and concerns into perspective.

Being able to understand others through film, music, and games has always fascinated me. They’ve helped me understand topics and walks of life that I wouldn’t be able to understand otherwise, and I have no doubt that they will continue to do so.

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