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Movies, Film, and Cinema: The Three Stages

Some people might say, "hey let's go to the movies!" Others could say, "I really liked that new film." Rarely does anyone say, "shall we attend the cinema," anymore, but trust me, they did at one point.

My not-so-ranty-rant this week is actually more of a weird lecture on the uses of these three words: Movies, Film, and Cinema. And yes, this may read like a scholarly article without the superfluous words and actual sources, but someone at some point in time had to be the first person with an original idea and I think that it is high time we returned to original thinking.

The first word under the microscope is "movie". Originally used back in the "Silent Era" when the Lumiere brothers (look them up on your own time, I don't get paid to educate you) were creating moving images with their custom built camera. Similar to "talkies" because they were talking pictures. But any good film student/historian should know this word as a noun. I happen to be talking about using it as a specific categorization tool.

If I were to say, "yeah, that movie was alright," I really mean that it was decent but that I probably will not put any more thought into it. I might see a movie on television or rent one, but it most likely is something that I will show up to, chew my popcorn, and then leave. I might have enjoyed it, or I might not. It's that simple.

A film, however, is usually something that begins to register as "art" to me. A, hopefully, decent example would be the original Star Wars film from 1977. As already stated, I consider it a film, a work of art. The second trilogy (with Revenge of the Sith being my personal exception), and certainly the more recent trilogy, would simply be movies. Yes, there are some great actors, fantastic CGI and a whole list of other individual items that I find interesting, but as a whole, only the first (chronologically) trilogy films are, well, films.

Cinema is a bit more difficult. If you are starting to guess that I will define it as the highest form of film-making, you are partially right. It should also be noted, however, that most "cinematic" films are usually a little too artistic for my tastes, sometimes even lacking in story a bit but making up for it in cinematography or scoring. I do love a good film score.

So what?

Is that it?

Of course not!

Above cinema you might make a good argument for experimental films: often the most absurd and jarring things ever seen, simply because we have not seen them before. Usually lacking even more so in story, but again, making up for it even more so in stylistic elements.

The underbelly of film-making is trash cinema. Yes, I am aware of two very unlike words being used together, but that is the point. Often, terrible films will be elevated to cult status because of how awful they are. The Room, Sharknado, Rocky Horror Picture Show just to name a few (that last one being particularly bad in my opinion. Yes, I know you might like it, but this is my website. Go read my entry on film critics).

Ultimately, there are a wide range of ways to describe works of art in the moving picture industry. Personally, I enjoy my categories and even explaining them.

Why go to all the trouble of writing it all down in the first place if it didn't?

Stuart "StuFluff" Jenkins

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