The student news site of Lake Forest Academy

The Spectator

Breaking News
  • February 15Enjoy the Long Weekend!
The student news site of Lake Forest Academy

The Spectator

The student news site of Lake Forest Academy

The Spectator

Films of 2023: Influence and Impact

“Movies touch our hearts, awaken our vision, and change the way we see things” – Martin Scorsese.
Courtesy of @disneylittlemermaid on Instagram

It is 2021, the date, Dec 18th. I am but alone in my bedroom, except for the drawing hum of the AC in the bathroom, reverberating my canopied bed with an eerily comforting atmosphere. My shades are drawn, dusk encroaching upon the setting sun, as the tempoed vibrato of the Before Sunrise’s score dances through the speakers. Shortly, the bolded title will follow, flashing across the screen, affront the passing rusted railroad tracks. I am having the worst day of my life. In the next one-hundred-and-five minutes I will witness a piece of cinema that will forever transform any sense of self I thought I had. Six thousand, three hundred and forty two seconds. I will never look at anything the same. 

Cinema, films, any word to depict the out of body experience that a motion picture can invoke in oneself, have an intricately interesting way of not only touching our hearts, but of shaping the social and cultural happenings of our world. While films can be humorous, touching, and inspiring, it’s immensely important to understand the rhetoric behind them and how they very meticulously impact the world around us. 

Arguably the most important cinematic event of 2023 was the portmanteau of Barbenheimer, an iconic collaboration between the scientific world of Oppenheimer and the pink pastels of Barbie. While this brought on the greatest box office sales since the 2019 release of Avengers Infinity War, there was also tons of public discourse surrounding both movies. Barbie arguably reinstated its place as a dominant commercial influence across the globe, dolls sales alone increasing almost 25% after the movie’s release. With the emergence of technology, simple children’s toys such as dolls and trucks are fading from the next generation’s leisure. Barbie reminded everyone of the dream houses and plastic foods of Mattel, that we’ve all come to love with nostalgia. Oppenheimer, however, was critically blamed with understating the devastating effects atomic weapons have had on various cultures, specifically Japan. Many people, not only critics but scientists, spoke out against Christopher Nolan’s messily idealized retelling of the atomic bomb’s birth, claiming it dangerous in its lack to confront the current issue of atomic weapons and warfare today. 

Another popularly controversial movie was The Little Mermaid, starring Halle Bailey released at the end of May 2023. This live-action remake featured a black mermaid, following a similar storyline to the original animated version. While this slight change in Ariel’s race wouldn’t seem to be too problematic, public outlet’s blew this largely out of proportion. Some argued it was wrong to stray from the original, while others applauded Disney for the representation. Companies such as Disney who are heavily involved in the industry of entertainment have been pushed to include more representation of women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ actors and characters in their productions. While Ariel’s casting seems like a miniscule detail that doesn’t have any greater effect on the movie, the impact of integrating women of color into classically famous stories, paves the way for more inclusion in the Hollywood industry in the future. 

Outside of controversial films, quietly moving pictures can also shape thinking. With some of the most emotionally striking movies, May December, Past Lives, and The Zone of Interest to name a few, 2023 was a year of meticulously touching films. The most intriguing aspect of cinema is how it’s able to take experiences and narratives that are so foreign to oneself and forge a connection with those tales. Past Lives, directed by Celine Song is a story of two childhood friends who are torn apart when Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea, only to reunite much later in their life for a week, intertwining their lives once again. Kaitlyn Archbold, a student and member of the Students Film Club at Holy Trinity School in Toronto, Ontario explained the effect Past Lives had on her. “ I’ve never been in love, never really had that connection with someone, but it made me feel like I did. It gives you empathy for people like that, but also [makes] you wish you were them.” While people can’t feel everything and know how others feel, cinema builds that bridge of understanding and compassion to all different ways of life. 

Film has this implicit ability to reach into our head and rip out our heart, forcing us to not only think, but to feel through storytelling. Through inanimate performances, compelling compositions, camera angles, and potent direction, cinema changes the way we feel, thus the way we act, not only individually, but as a society in whole.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *