June 27, 2013 by heligena
In homage to the great T.J. Eckleberg in The Great Gatsby, I’ve been wondering a lot lately about the significance of eyes in regards to the movies we watch. After all, they are the windows to the soul, right? And we’re supposed to have them trained on the stars, aren’t we? Whether cosmic or thespian. You’re free to decide by the way, which of those has the most significance to you. In fact, the more I think about it, the more all these random questions seem to just pop into my brain.
Like: Why? Why do blue and green eyed actors seem to be more successful than their brown eyed brethren? Is it because our brains naturally focus on bright colours rather than dark subdued ones? Or because they’re easier to enhance in post production? Perhaps it’s all a misconception and we just don’t notice the darker ones as much? That’s not a question I can answer by the way, but I’d like to pose it nonetheless. Being a brown eyed girl, maybe it’s a jealousy thing- that I don’t like to think that other eye colours are assumed to be more attractive. If you have any thoughts on this by the way, please feel free to share them.
To come back to the point though; eyes are a pretty essential necessity to enjoy the movie going experience. On a practical level for one thing. We even pay extra for the stereoscopic 3D wow factor, indulging our inner spectacle-wearer. We purposefully trick our brain with a red left-hand angle of the screen and a blue right-hand angle amalgamated into one singular view that ‘pops out of the screen.’ What you’re doing there is effectively taking two people’s individual perspectives of the film and stuffing them into your own tiny brain in one go. Absorbing someone else; absorbing something outside your natural skills. Whilst rocking the ‘nerd chic’ thing. It’s a hell of a thing. Inexplicable and mysterious. (It’s also a hell of a sacrifice for people who already wear glasses, let me tell you.) So why do we do it, when 2D screenings are on offer at the same time? Answers on a postcard, my friends. My own personal opinion is that we like to feel part of the process; basking in the same included feeling we get watching the ‘making of’ DVD extras when possible. We like to go ‘eye to eye and toe to toe’ with the characters, however impossible that may actually be. We want to see what they see. Identification and empathy all through a simple lens. You may think that a stretch, but I think there’s something in it.
What though, of eyes in the movies? Surely that’s just as important. In fact, some of the most memorable moments spring from their involvement. The slicing open of the eyeball in Dali/Bunuel in La Chien Andalou gave it notoriety almost instantly despite all the other fleeting yet bizarre images they showed. The indoctrination scene close to the end of A Clockwork Orange is indelibly burned into the movie watchers memory, even more so when you learn that Malcolm McDowell actually scratched his retinas in the process of filming that. In Hostel, the poster boy for the gorno genre, a random girl gets her eye cut off, a scene which prompted more complaints than any of the other horrific things that go on in the film. And then you have the movie serial killers who routinely cut out the eyes in the photographs of their victims. So you see…Eyes are all around us, in front of us. And behind us, haunting our nightmares.
So maybe what it really boils down to is the sensitivity of the eye itself. The fear and threat of pain and blindness that draws us in more than anything. If you’ve ever asked you friends the age old question, which would you rather be-blind of deaf; the answer is usually deaf because sight is so important to us. We use it every second we’re awake and apparently it seeps deep into our nightmares too.
I guess what I’m saying overall is this- although we may not think about them as much as we actually use them, but when it comes to our eyes, we like and need to be reminded of their importance as often as humanly possible. Even if we’re paying for the privilege with a movie ticket.
- A Clockwork Orange Film Review (theeradicatorreviews.com)
- Up-and-Coming//Derek Cianfrance (thephiphenomenon.wordpress.com)
- Malcolm McDowell: The CFQ Interview (cinefantastiqueonline.com)