Film can be one of the most inspiring forms of art in the world. The mere act of watching a movie can ignite extreme passion in an individual. Think of all the actors and directors in the world. Surely it was watching films that inspired them to create their own, or to join the industry and become a part of the process. Look at the endless supply of blogs, websites, and forums, created for the sole purpose of sharing an opinion on the film world. I had originally pitched this article as a post about my girlfriend and I watching music documentaries, but it become apparent that something else was happening while we watched.
My girlfriend and I sat down to a day’s worth of music documentaries. We started with a concert by Led Zeppelin, a band we both enjoy. From there, we moved on to The Last Waltz , something I probably enjoyed more than she did. Finally, we finished our evening with Sound City . Each film was entertaining, and certainly worth the time we spent watching, but there was something that grew inside of us during this time. Passion.
While I thought my article would be a hilarious look at my girlfriend making me watch Smashing Pumpkins videos all day, what it was turning out to be was the way in which film, especially documentaries, can move people to action. The more we watched the behind-the-scenes look at bands, the more my girlfriend thought we should both be playing music again. We had both been in bands through much of our teenage lives, and there are few feelings as good as standing on stage in front of an audience. As life becomes more hectic, these moments wind up being set aside.
These films were awakening those emotions again. Sound City became the defining moment. Directed by Dave Grohl, the film begins by talking about Sound City, a recording studio where Nirvana had recorded their Nevermind album. The studio had a vast history of famous musicians who had come to record albums there because of the unique recording equipment, and the ability to produce incredibly lush mixes. As the years pass by, and digital production becomes popular, the studio loses business until it’s forced to close. Grohl decides to buy the famous mixing board, moves it to his own studio, and invites musicians who recorded at Sound City to record at his studio. This is where the film’s real quality sinks in.
The stories told by the various musicians about their lives, how Sound City affected them, and the ways in which music had brought them together, started to affect my girlfriend and I. We were becoming inspired to create again, to return to the world of music, and to find the joy in crafting a piece of music that never existed before. Feeling that growing creative need, sparked by a day of documentaries, got me thinking about the vast amount of documentaries that I had watched before. From climate change, hospital waiting rooms, the education system, and health care to biographies, behind the scenes, and the use of the F word, I have watched many documentaries. It dawned on me that each one of them had inspired me to do something with my life.
I’ve become a better person, specifically from watching certain documentaries. Things that I may have never done before, I now do because a movie inspired me to. I try to eat better, appreciating the food that we have, after watching The Fruit Hunters. I pay more attention to the ways in which my children’s school works because of films like The Lottery. News has taken a new twist after I watched Shadows of Liberty. A passion for hard work, and respect for any job you have, was a result of watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi. The one film that most affected me though, was Good Virus.
Good Virus is a documentary about being nice. It seems like a strange idea, but there’s so much more to it than simply being nice. There are possible health benefits, and the film shows that kindness is contagious. It was the inspiration from this film that led me to one of the happier moments of 2012. During the holiday season, I was shopping for books. I decided to buy The Grinch Who Stole Christmas , but not for myself. When I reached the counter, I told the cashier to take the book and give it to the next person with a child who was shopping. Tears began to fill her eyes, and she declared that this was the nicest thing she had ever seen someone do. It made her holiday that much better, and mine as well.
Had it not been for that documentary, the thought wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. We frequently take film for granted, especially documentaries. They can inspire great change in people, and may even affect your life without you realizing it. So, the next time someone tells you to stop wasting time sitting there watching movies, tell them that you’re trying to better yourself.
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