Monday, September 02, 2013

With the click of a button

Recently, I was having a conversation with a good friend about watching movies.  It came up that she likes to put on a DVD of a favorite movie she’s seen a lot and jump to the end, or the "good" parts, (or however you want to refer to those favorite scenes we all have).

I usually cannot do that.  What makes the end or finale or the “good parts” of a movie good, for me, is the build up to get there.  The anticipation.  The emotional journey.  To just jump straight to the end, with no lead in... well, then I have nothing invested, even if I know very well what happens to reach that point.  The scene won’t have any impact if I just jump there with the press of a button on my DVD player.  My friend said she jumps to the end because that is the best part, the part she's most invested in, and it is the part she most wants to repeat.

I’ve tried skipping to the end of various movies... and it just doesn’t work for me.  I guess I’m one of those long-term viewers.  When I watch something, I commit to it.  Which is why I’d always much rather see movies in the theater.  Why I often go alone so I don’t have to deal with someone else’s comments or movements (gigantic pet peeve:  people who put their feet up on the chairs in front of them.  I HATE THAT!!!!) or other such rubbish.  I usually sit fairly close to the screen, for two reasons – 1) I don’t want to see see heads or people getting up and moving around – all that takes me out of the movie, and 2) I want to be in the movie, and sitting closer lets the screen dominate my sight.

When I watch a movie, I am not here any longer.  I’m there, in the movie with the characters.  That’s why I go to the movies in the first place.

I think jumping to a favorite scene on a DVD makes me feel like a viewer not a participant in the film.  And that is not something I enjoy.  It breaks films into bits.  Films are not bits.  They’re one two-hour journey.  They're an arc from start to finish.  The rainbow without the storm that came before it is a pretty enough sight, but it is not earned.

There are exceptions, of course.  If I have no emotional investment in a film, then I'm okay with jumping anywhere in it... but if I have no emotional investment, it's not a favorite anyway.  But I can't think of one movie I truly love where I'd want to jump to the end without watching the entire thing, or where I've tried it and the end worked for me stand-alone.

I'll add that individual movie scenes can be the same way for me.  I was looking for one specific scene on youtube from a movie I recently watched.  (The idea being that if it were there, I wouldn't have to buy the DVD just so I can watch that one scene again.)  I found the last 16 seconds of it.  And gee, it doesn't work for me, not without the two minutes leading up to that last 16 seconds.  Same principle.  I guess I'm just not an end result person.

I figure I must be in the minority on this.  But then, given how many times I will go back to see a movie I love in the theater, this is not a surprise.  LOL!


  1. I can only think of two movies where I ever have wanted to watch just part of them, and I haven't done so for years. My brother and I used to watch just the first 40 minutes of Return of the Jedi if we wanted a Star Wars fix but didn't have enough time to watch a whole movie. And, once we'd seen X-Men half a dozen times, he and I would sometimes skip "the boring Magneto parts" and just watch all the stuff with Wolverine and Rogue in them. Because we had loved those particular characters for years already, we were plenty invested in them without needing all that pesky plot stuff every time we watched it, lol.

    Now, a question for you -- do you ever re-read particular sections of a favorite book, or do you need to read a whole book too?

    1. Oh, there are definitely movies I watch only parts of, or I will happily skip over the boring scenes, but those are usually not favorite movies, nor are they movies I have a strong emotional connection with.

      Um. Your book question is interesting. One, because I'm not sure I have very many favorite emotional scenes in books, like I do in movies. There's no music in books, so right off the bat, I'm 95% less likely to have the same kind of reaction to a book scene than I do to a movie scene. And I'm having a very hard time thinking of any scenes in books that are favorite because of what happens, not just the ohhh factor of how awesome the writing is.

      I will often re-read sections of books for the language, or to see how something was put together, or to check on how something was described... reading as a writer, not a reader.

      But I've been running through Alistair MacLean, trying to think of scenes I will go read just because I love the scene itself, and I'm not turning up any. And the emotional stories for me, like Secret Ways, I do re-read the entire book when I'm in the mood for it. I don't read just the ending.

      I'm not sure I answered the question in all this rambling!

    2. I have a few books that I will read just part of just because that part is so flamin' awesome. The first meeting between Rochester and Jane in Jane Eyre, and random other bits of their scenes together. I've also been known to skip the beginning of that book, start reading when she goes to Thornfield, and then skip all the stuff with the Rivers cousins and go straight to her return to Thornfield.

      I've read the beginning few chapters of Rebecca many times, stopping before they go to Manderley.

      And I've read the last few chapters of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban several times, from where they go to the Shrieking Shack through to the end.

      Oh, and I can re-read the ending of Persuasion on its own too, from when Captain Wentworth writes his letter to the end.

      With those, I know the stories and characters so well, I can just jump into the emotional state and mindset without the set-up. I don't do it often, but now and then...

  2. For the most part, I am like you are. I want to watch every scene in a film...AND catch every word. I get so worked up if I'm watching a movie with the family and someone talks and I miss what was being said. While the family tells me to blow it off and that it isn't that important and that I can figure things out, I always back the movie up and watch that scene again, so I can catch all the words. (Of course, that annoys the family as much as their talking during the scene annoys me.)

    That said, there is 1 movie in particular that I love fast forwarding to a favorite part, and then watching the last 40 minutes. That movie is "Madame X." I put the film on, skip to the last 40 minutes, and sob just as I do when I watch from the beginning.

    A pet peeve of mine at the movie theatre is when people pull out their phones after the theatre is dark. Not sure if they are checking their FB, texting, or whatever, but I just wish they'd keep the thing in their pocket for 2 hours. It really is possible to stay unplugged for the whole duration of a movie.

    1. EEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Talking ist verbotten with me unless I've seen a movie so often I know all the dialog whether I can hear it or not. And both of my parents talk during movies, my mom especially. She'll just natter on about something right during important dialog -- my dad at least usually pauses the movie to chat.

      People's phones in theaters don't usually bug me because I'm so sucked into the movie that I don't notice what's going on around me. I suppose if someone right next to or in front of me was flashing one around a lot, it would annoy me. But I'm always careful to turn mine off so as to respect other people.

    2. I'm with you guys on the talking thing, unless I've seen the movie so many times it's memorized, or it's a movie I don't care about, or there are occasional viewings of films with my sister where we must discuss things that are happening in the film in great detail, as they happen live during the viewing. Rare, but it does happen, and talking is okay the, cuz we're watching the movie for a different purpose.

      And people who still text or check the internet or whatever in the theater also drive me nuts. I catch that flare of unnatural light to the side or in front of me and it pulls me right out of the movie. Another reason I sit closer, to hopefully avoid those types of people who just can't relax for two hours without their phones on.