By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Going to the summer blockbuster movies is nothing short of torture. Usually these Hollywood-produced action dramas are filled with fast-paced plots, tons (literally) of special effects, endless chases, extended fights, and multiple explosions. You know what we're talking about.
These movies mirror our speed obsessed culture where "hurry-sickness" is a national malady. "Be fast or be last" is the name of the game, and the race is on. "Those who snooze, lose." And how can we snooze through a movie today?
There have always been action movies, but we sensed an acceleration — an addiction to speed — in the 2002 release of The Bourne Identity directed by Tony Gilmore. The storyline for that film didn't give us a chance to pause, catch our breath, or take in what we were feeling. Instead the frenetic pace hurled us along to the exciting finale.
Today the speed of movies is reaching a point of no return. Our personal and cultural restlessness seems to be driving us to hunger for this kind of excess.
Another ingredient established by The Bourne Identity is the use of a soundtrack of propulsive and percussive music to move the action along. Sitting in a theatre surrounded by this often mind-numbing sound reminds us of the CIA's use of loud and aggressive "torture music" to induce discomfort, nausea, and disorientation in suspected terrorists. Scientists have found that
babies as young as four months are more likely to wince, cry, or fuss in response to dissonant sounds.
And so we are calling for a Slow Movie Movement. Just as the Slow Food Movement has advocated for an alternative to fast food by returning to cooking techniques that take time, traditional recipes that don't use shortcuts, and local food, we'd like to see movies go back to their roots in plain and simple storytelling. Cut the sensory assault!
We want to go to movies that give our eyes something to rest upon, like a beautiful scene or a touching encounter between people. We'd like to hear less adrenalin pumping music that leaves our faces wincing and our bodies shaking. We ask that theatres turn down the sound volume so that we don't suffer hearing loss from exposure to high decibels. After suffering through the abominable blockbuster Man of Steel, a new rendition of Superman, we both were so manic that we wished we had a sensory deprivation tank to lie in and regain our inner peace.
We have decided not to attend any more sensory assault movies this summer. Life is too short and too precious to bludgeon our eyes, ears, skin, hearts, and brains with these toxic films that water the seeds of violence and leave us depleted of energy to do anything else. Our senses are astonishing gifts from God and deserve to be cared for, not exposed to extremes that threaten their ability to put us in touch with the subtle wonders of life.
Don't get us wrong. We love movies. We are just asking that the film industry produce more slow ones. Let's have some intimate dramas where events unfold in the fullness of time: movies like The Horse Whisperer, The Straight Story, Local Hero, Strangers in Good Company, Enchanted April, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Help, and Julie and Julia. Give us movies that touch the human heart with their emphasis on the pauses and transitions in the ordinary lives of people. Life is more than speed! We will welcome with open arms more chances to experience the wonders of silence, reverence, and mystery in the local Cineplex.