If love… then what? (1)
(A Movie Review – 1st of 3 parts)
Just recently I watched the movie “The Professor and the Madman.” The said biographical drama drew my interest because of this line in an advertisement – “It’s [produced] to teach you an important lesson in the history of the English language.” That tickler ignited the student (and the teacher) of history and language in me.
What made me more interested to watch the movie is it having Mel Gibson and Sean Penn leading the cast. I have watched many of the movies of the said actors and I was curious how the two would fare in this one.
Before watching the movie, I tried to read on the Internet some more information about it. I chanced upon an article summarizing what the critics said about the biopic. I don’t usually read reviews before watching a particular movie but because this is not a new one, it was actually released in 2019, I decided to read the article and two more after it. Majority of the reviews thumbed down the movie. The comments I read were bad. Of those comments, none could be worse than this – “It is the latest fiasco in bad movie history.” The critics were also not so kind with what they said about the performance of the lead actors.
Other people might not bother to watch the movie at all anymore after reading such negative reviews… but not me.
As far as I am concerned, there is more to a story (or a movie) than what critics say about it. I consider reviews as opinions that could possibly be subjective. And if the negative reviews would discourage me from watching it, I would never know what I might be missing.
The subjects I taught in the Philippines before I came here to South Korea include Literary Criticism and Stylistics. I could wear the hat of a movie critic if I choose to. But whenever I watch movies, I put my feet in the shoes of an ordinary movie fan. I put aside all those literary and linguistic devices I was trained to use when dealing with stories. I would always switch off all those literary theories and schools of criticism when the movie starts. All I want to do is enjoy what I am about to see.
Admittedly though, there’s one “ism” that’s not completely switched off while I watch the movie – Appreciative Inquiry. And if you’re familiar with this philosophical model, you know it would not prevent me from enjoying the movie.
I leave the critiquing to the people paid (or whose hobby is) to find faults in movies. I watch films for entertainment and for the possibility of learning a lesson or two about life. I always bear in mind that the stories we read or watch in movies do inform, instruct, and somehow prepare us for life if we choose to internalize the morals the story presents to us.
And I was glad I decided to watch the movie despite the negative reviews I read because at the end, I did not only gain more insights about the English language. The movie also broadened my perspectives on three common themes in literature – friendship, redemption, forgiveness, and love. It wasn’t just the student (and the teacher) of history and language in me that experienced satisfaction after watching the movie, the student (and teacher) of literature that I am was also delighted.