What does the history of films say about violence?

In our textbook page 33 as well as chapter 2 the book discusses the influence of violence through media and entertainment and whether these should be blamed for it. I decided to pick my favorite source of entertainment, movies, and explain how it is not to be blamed for the violence of today. Since the first films were shown on screen, movies have been the most popular of entertainment. People flock to the nearest theatre with family and friends to see their favorite stars on the silver screen. From a movie buffs perspective, many of these characters portrayed by our favorite actors have evolved through out time as well as the films content. Film makers crave to show things audiences have never seen. And over this period of time, audiences always want film makers to up the action.

As fun as this past time is, films are often criticized and blamed for the influence and cause of violence today. However, I’m wanting to prove the innocence of film. Starting as early as 1919 to the 1990’s, I will explain how violence in film has evolved just like we have. And that without violent films, we may not have realized how bad it is. In 1919, D.W. Griffith directed the hugely hailed film “Broken Blossoms”, starring Lillian Gish. The actress played the character Lucy, a young girl abused by her boxer father and befriends a Chinese immigrant. Throughout the film, the lonely and weak Lucy has to force a simple smile with two fingers. The film is remembered for its horrifying climax as Lucy locks herself in a closet as she hides from her father who is ready to kill her. Audiences who viewed the film were horrified and shocked that something like that would be shown. However this is exactly what D.W. Griffith wanted. He wanted to raise awareness of abuse. Many other of his films were known as violent and gritty. Among these directors who fall in the same category is Stanley Kubrick. In 1971 he pushed the boundaries with “A Clockwork Orange.” The film was criticized by many who saw it from its disturbing rape scene and depiction of psychological torture. However, the film has proven to be timeless and is considered one of the most important films ever made because of its lessons on moral values.

Many war movies have been remembered for their bloody and realistic battle scenes. Such films are “Apocalypse Now” (1978) and “Saving Private Ryan” (1998). These films only try to display some of the horrors real Vietnam veterans and soldiers of WWII faced. They are made so maybe we can understand a little of what these men went through to fight for us. The last film I will talk about is “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991). There is a scene between the Terminator played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Connor where they see two little boys pretending to shoot each other with guns. John wonders why they do it. The Terminator simply replies, “It is in your nature to destroy.” As violent and action packed as the film is known for, it takes the idea of violence to a knew perspective that not many other movies have gone. It is the fact that violence isn’t only taught to us but is something we are all capable of.

Whether violence is portrayed in films from abuse to war battles, violence has been around much longer than films have. And even though violence has been displayed in many ways through out the history of film, it has been shown through many other ways of media. So is something to blame? Maybe it’s how we are raised. Perhaps it is developed through our morals or lack of morals. Whatever the case, violence in films is there to remind us that it does happen in the real world, not just in the movies.   


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