Hello, fellow cinema lovers, here comes some facts and then a question.
Since 2008 I’ve been watching again some acclaimed (other’s not so much) films that I didn’t liked or enjoyed or found all that interesting over the years, but now they’re becoming my favorites. In short, first they were thumbs down now they’re thumbs up. And believe me, the list is long! Time and perception change all the time, there’s countless factors for this change of heart and change of mind as well. Of all the ones I watched for a second time only one film failed in this quest which means I won’t have to watch it for a third time.
However, I do know that some films critics have the tendency of making another view on a film they didn’t understood one thing or another to finally make some sharp conclusion (Ebert watched ‘Brazil’ twice and still didn’t enjoyed, missed the point). But on the other hand, I have to agree with Pauline Kael when she said something about films must be decisive right on the first view, if it’s good you’ll know right away. I mean, it should be like this because our time is precious, short, and we have an enourmous variety of sources and pictures out there, and repeat the ones we really enjoy and understand, but to take our time to see something we didn’t care much again sometimes it’s not much of a good idea (although I’m enjoying it doing these reavaluations and thankfully I’m a patient person and depending of the case always willing to change my mind over something).
Like anything in life it has its good and bad moments. But my question is: how many views you think a movie must have so you can finally like it or to finally become part of your favorite selection? One view should be enough or multiple viewings are always welcome? Please share some of your experiences.
I think there have already been a few threads like this on the forum. Anyway, it obviously depends on one’s mood and concentration while watching if a repeated viewing is required, though there are also works that are either incredibly complex or simple which must be viewed more than once. A perfect example is Tarkovsky’s “Zerkalo” which is almost impossible to comprehend on a single viewing due to its complexity, but each additional viewing makes one understand the more that its greatness actually lies in its simplicity and beauty. I think that beauty is another aspect which sometimes demands that one rewatches a film; one may not perceive it the same a second time around which means the first impression either becomes stronger or fades, but aside it being the essential experience for a cinephile to look out for those moments of sheer beauty, it also makes it much easier to evaluate one’s appreciation of a certain work of art.
If we’re just talking about favorite film—a film you really enjoyed—I want to say that one viewing should be sufficient. However, suppose you didn’t understand the film completely? Or suppose you watched it under bad conditions, e.g., a lot of distractions, wrong mood for the film, etc.? You might not have to re-watch the film, but you should be open to the possibility that you might love it if you had a good understanding of the film or you saw it under better conditions.
If we’re talking about assessing the quality of a film, I think having a good understanding of what the film is about is really crucial—and if you don’t or can’t get this understanding then you should watch the film as many times as you need to do so. For example, I had to watch Mullholland Drive about five times before I figured out what was really going on. For me to say the film was a bad movie before I got to this point would have been unfair, imo (Well, I especially think this because understanding the film has more to do with the complex nature of the film more than poor filmmaking.)
Another recent example. I just saw Tree of Life and like other Malick films, the monologue is really important to understanding the film (maybe moreso than his earlier films). But I couldn’t make out some of the words (in some cases, failing to understand just one word—but a crucial one!). If I have only one viewing, I’m not going to be able to figure out these words, which could impact my understanding of the film.
So the key for me is getting a good understanding of the film—no matter how many viewings it takes.
There are films that at first didn’t really impress me, such as There Will Be Blood, Half Nelson, and especially The Hours. But then however after first viewing, they got me thinking and the more I think about them, the more I wanna see them again. Upon my second viewing of those 3 films, strangely enough they became my favorite as in I really saw what’s great in those films. So I always welcome the chance of multiple viewing.
Jumping on Apu’s comment regarding Mirror and complexity, when you think about other great works of art, can you really appreciate many of them in one experience? Think of a great novel, painting or piece of music. Sometimes one needs mutliple experiences to fully understand and appreciate the work—especially if the work is really complex or abstract (like Mirror). Shouldn’t we think of films in the same way?
On the other hand, if, on the first viewing, we have a pretty good idea that the film is not great, then maybe a second viewing is not really crucial. Still, I think it’s important to get a good understanding a film before we completely write it off (i.e. decide it’s worthless or that we’ll never see it again).
Exactly. A good undertsanding of the film is most important is this scenario. And yes, Mirror is one of those difficult cases that really requires multiple viewings (but for me, since I watched more recently this is gonna have to wait until I decide to watch it again). But here’s another issue that stands in the way, but might be not much important depending of where you live and how films are distributed. In my country, sadly, we have to depend (sometimes) of dubbing versions of films, and dubbing versions of films concetrated on dialogs are terrible and they become really boring. The most recently addition among the films I disliked earlier but then it changed in my view was The Big Chill, first, watched a dubbed version than later the original one (but of course, the movie’s reflexions also became more appealing now).