Question of the Day: Better on the Big Screen

15 09 2006

If you could watch any movie on the big screen right at this moment, what would it be?

I should probably pick something that was meant for the big screen—something, in other words, that’s absolutely gorgeous. Nothing immediately comes to mind, though. Every once in awhile, I read about a movie and think I should make a real effort to see it in the theater—instead of on DVD or on HBO. I usually don’t make it, I guess, and now I can’t even think of anything I recently missed. Gosh, I’m a loser!

So, I’ll have to go with something older—er, something older that I’d like to see again on the big screen. And what comes to mind is The Mission, Roland Joffé’s 1986 film starring Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro. The Mission told the story of Jesuit priests who resisted Portugal’s attempt to take over, and enslave, an indigenous population in its South American colony. Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, The Mission was stronger in terms of cinematography and music than in plot. It was a beautiful-looking film, and Ennio Morricone’s exquisite soundtrack—which you’ve surely heard—focused your attention on the images. In fact, the images told the story. If you’ve only seen The Mission on the small screen, well, I doubt you’ve really “seen” it.

Something else that comes to mind is Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance, Godfrey Reggio’s 1983 documentary that was built on (out of?) time-lapse photography. As in The Mission, music plays an enormous role in the experience of Koyaanisqatsi; here, the soundtrack was written by Philip Glass, the brilliant minimalist composer. The photography, propelled by Glass’s beautiful music, forces the viewer to confront the way people, and especially our technology, have imposed on the environment. I’d love to see Koyaanisqatsi again—the way Reggio and Glass must have intended.

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