Suggest a form of physical suffering you'd rather endure this weeken than spending $10+ to watch James Franco reenact what hiker Aron Ralston did....Are we ghoulish to want to see more than the mental picture we had when we read about it in the press? Is there something different about a filmed depiction of an incident in which human beings did something evil to other human beings — "Schindler's List," "United 93" — and man-against-nature survival tales?
I feel like we've had a bunch of films like this lately -- United 93, A Mighty Heart (the Daniel Pearl story), World Trade Center and others I'm sure you can name -- dramatic films based on real-life events where I can understand why filmmakers believed this was a story worth telling, but where the story itself is not one I have any interest in spending my entertainment dollars/time to see. And yet we (pretty much) all saw Schindler's List, which somehow became a cultural obligation in a way that none of the others -- not even the remarkable story of United 93 -- did.
One of my favorite TV shows is "I Shouldn't Be Alive," which features reenacted survival stories like "Trapped Under a Boulder." And one of my favorite movies, "Touching the Void," is the same thing. In these stories, individuals have made a decision to go out into the wilderness or climb mountains and they get into trouble because of their own bad decisions or over-optimistic ideas about the dangers that are out there. Then they need to deal with the consequences. I think it's kind of right-wing to watch dramas like that. What if you leave the comforts of civilization and go out where you will have to be self-reliant? In many of these scenarios, the characters begin with the idea that they want to prove something to themselves by doing something difficult out where there will be no one to help them if things go bad.
And that's the story in the movie ALOTT5MA is talking about, "127 Hours."
That's the new movie by the director of "Slumdog Millionaire," which was a fictional story showing terrible things happening to children. Why do we make up stories of causing children to suffer and entertain ourselves with that? ALOTT5MA seems to think there's something very different about subjecting ourselves to a story where we know what the terrible thing is. Now, in fiction or nonfiction stories, we might know or not know what's going to happen. Are you more willing to watch movies and TV shows where you don't know what the particular horrors are? Would I have avoided seeing "Slumdog Millionaire" if I knew the exact torture that I'd see inflicted on children? Does my answer change if I know that things like that are really done to children in India?
And then there are the movies that depict real historical events, like the Holocaust and 9/11. We know the horrors, but in a rough, general sense. The point of these movies is to allow us to enter the individual experience of the human beings whose lives were part of the familiar history. We see those movies, if they are good enough, because of the way they give us deep psychic understanding of what happened. There's that quote (attributed to Stalin), "A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." A good movie might get you to the tragedy by putting you inside one person within the millions. But it might not be good. It might be a commercial exploitation of the emotions you already have. You may feel that you're obligated to care about these phony scenes full of actors because this really happened to real people. There will be celebrities in Nazi uniforms hamming up how evil they are. Then it's a travesty. Frankly, that's how I felt about "Schindler's List."