Cinema is the ultimate pervert art. It doesn’t give you what you desire – it tells you how to desire – Slavoj Žižek.
Film making is power. Arguably the most important aspects of film are it has the power to persuade, create fear and to teach. We now live in an age where technology is everywhere and easily accessible and so if used incorrectly, can result in catastrophic consequences.
Film, however is a way to escape modern societies’ increasing ‘faux pas’ by enlightening the viewer of the hidden depths of society that are not so easy to find at first glance. As said before we live in the modern age, which is much more liberal than olden day cinema of cops versus robbers and good versus evil; it’s a little bit more complicated than that… This can be seen in the 2002 futuristic sci-fi film, Minority Report (starring Tom Cruise, left), which is about a time in which special police units are able to arrest murderers before they commit their crime. It is a film that tackles the doctrine of determinism and that all human action can be predicted by a cause regarded as greater and external to free will.
Any philosophy student, whether it’s at undergraduate level, college or maybe even at GCSE level, will know Plato’s Cave. This theory of ‘human being state of reality’ can be compared to The Truman Show (1998) starring Jim Carrey. The Allegory of the Cave is that people are metaphorically living chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to designate names to these shadows. The Truman Show is similar to this because Jim Carrey’s character Truman is living in a contained world of which is the main protagonist for the world to watch as his every escapade is a form of entertainment. Eventually, Truman feels a sense of being watched and starts to question the notions of reality and his own physical existence.
It isn’t just fictional films such as the futuristic and extreme surveillance films discussed that have ideological thought entwined within them, there are films based on real lives that tackle some of the most controversial issues that exist in relation to ideology. Hannah Arendt (2012) is a film based on the real life occurrence of a young Jewish journalist who traveled to Jerusalem, Israel to attend the trial for Nazi Adolf Eichmann. She discovered the term ‘banality of evil’. The term basically means that she did not see the “monster” Adolf Eichmann was portrayed to be by the mainstream media. Eichmann was high up in the hierarchy of the holocaust death machine that was the Nazi regime in World War II and with Mrs Arendt being Jewish you would probably predict her to be one of the first to call for Eichmann to be hung, but no. Hannah Arendt saw Eichmann as nothing more than a man who was just ‘following orders’ and arguably ‘following the law’.
Hannah’s concept of ‘the banality of evil’ challenged the notion that all people guilty of mass murder were seen to be mentally ill or fanatics. The final point to make is that the term ‘banality’ is something that states how extremely ordinary Eichmann was, but how he was placed in an extremely extra-ordinary situation of which he was motivated by professional promotion, not ideology. Also Hannah Arendt didn’t want to confuse anyone by assuming all ordinary people have murderous traits within them, but that his actions were unintelligent which is unexceptional and within all of us.