Preconceived Notions Can Destroy Films’ True Greatness

I always go into a movie with tons of preconceived notions. Typically, I research long and hard before I spend my hard-earned cash on feature films, and I usually have faith that all of the work will pay off. Most of the time, it does.

But while my pockets are full and my eyes are open, sometimes I feel like my mind is a bit closed. There are a ton of movies that I have not seen simply because a tiny piece of me thought I wouldn’t enjoy it. For a guy that’s seen over 500 movies in his lifetime, you’d think that it would be easy to weed out what’s good and what’s not, and that I’d be able to extrapolate exactly what genres of films I enjoy, leaving the others behind in the dust.

That was all good and fine until I ran into the mystery that is 2011’s Drive.

I heard tons of great things about Drive. That’s the main reason why I ended up watching it. But for a guy that – at the time – was big on blockbusters, over-the-top action flicks, and some of the more popular dramas and comedies, I didn’t think I would ever enjoy an arthouse film. For me, it was just too much work. It’s wonderful when movies make you think, but I had a feeling that Drive would be full of too much atmosphere and mood, and that it would take away from any sort of complexity or originality. Somehow, though, it’s becoming one of my favorites.

At first, I thought the main reason why I love Drive, but hate most arthouse films, is because Nicolas Winding Refn just knows what he’s doing. So, figuring that I’d enjoy his other works, I checked out Bronson. I hated it.

So, with my mind still puzzled over the fact that I enjoy Drive so much, I returned to the film once again to see just what it is that makes it such a masterful work of art. Eventually, watch-after-watch, consideration-after-consideration, I figured it out. I know exactly why Drive is such a great film. That’s simply because everything clicked. It isn’t one thing that makes the movie great; there are a handful of elements that combine together and create a magical sense of chemistry and intensity. The plot works with the mood. The atmosphere and darkness play to the feelings of the characters. The acting is calm and simple, yet full of so much emotion. The violence is extremely bloody, but at the right times. Not everybody may feel the same way, and that’s fine. That’s the beauty of film. One person may love one film, and another person may hate it.

Because Drive isn’t completely a film about driving, a lot of people hate it – and just for that. They go in with preconceived notions, and when it doesn’t meet their expectations, they feel underwhelmed. That’s how I felt the first time I saw Drive, but since then, I’ve seen it probably eight times, and it just gets better and better. The best films possess this characteristic. I’m just ashamed because I know there are so many people that either skipped out on Drive because it’s an arthouse film or because they watched it once and were confused by it. In short, Drive didn’t surpass or come up short of expectations; it went around them.

But this is why I’m about to watch Refn’s follow-up to Drive, Only God Forgives. This is also why I’m about to re-watch Bronson. If I don’t like a film due to circumstance or preconceived notions, then what makes it a bad film per-se? Maybe it’s just not my thing. Maybe I just need to give it another chance. Maybe I need to quit judging books by their covers.

I don’t expect to love Only God Forgives on the first watch. I expect it to be a polarizing experience. But some of the greatest works of cinema are the ones that people either love or hate, and from reading some reviews, I can tell that this film is like that. I just hope that I didn’t read too many to distract me from the movie’s true beauty. It may take a bunch of watches to figure out just what that is, but if and when I find it, it’ll be mesmerizing.


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Author: Tim Dodderidge View all posts by
I'm a student at the University of Kansas hoping to major in journalism. I love Christopher Nolan films, eating at Taco Bell, and playing indoor soccer. I also like to watch How I Met Your Mother and enjoy writing poetry.

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