I'd enjoyed reading the book -a brilliant, imaginative and convincing fantasy. Seeing it on a small screen was a revelation to me of the creative skills of the experts in computer technology. It was also a big let-down. How can one be impressed by imagery, no matter how exciting or romantic, when men and women appear no larger than toy soldiers and elephants are as small as the pet gerbil!
Everything changed when I was taken to see the same drama on a large cinema screen. Loud speakers were distributed throughout the auditorium so that all of us seemed to be encased in a capsule of sound.
There was I with my brothers engrossed in watching the film, "Jurassic Park." We had just been given an episode that was as serene as the Garden of Eden (NB -before the Fall !).It was so relaxing and reassuring to be drawn into a world that seemed to be totally at peace with itself. Small wonder I had drifted off into a cozy, dreamy doze.
And then ...an enormous, fearsome dinosaur filled the whole screen, silent..poised, menacing. Unexpectedly, a huge roar reverberated throughout the cinema. The thrusting monster leaped forward...at me, seated in one of the front rows, nearest the screen. Without a thought I rose from my seat and in terror yelled, "Oh, God!" at the top of my voice. Never before and never since have I felt such an urgent need for God to come to my rescue.
Of course, the spell of this day-time nightmare was immediately broken when everyone in the cinema began to laugh at impressionable me. For my part, I was shaken, emotionally exhausted. It had been so real. But then there were my brothers to bring me round to laugh at myself.
Only much later was I able to reflect on what had for me been a shattering experience. I was much sobered by the thought that I, and I suppose all other fellow human beings, do not have control of our emotional reactions. We cannot turn them off and on as easily as we can the images on our TV screens. Images can be so over-powering that at the time we are unable to distinguish between the fictional and the factual. We simply enter and identify with what is being presented to us.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I have wept when viewing DVDs of 'Les Miserables' and 'La Boheme.' Who has been left cold and unmoved when watching on-screen drama which is violent or sensual? Let no-one tell us it's only a film and these actions are being acted out. And that they're not reality.
True enough! Up to a point! Beyond that point we are liable to be influenced in our thinking, our attitudes and possibly our behaviour by what passes for reality shows and virtual reality. They can be for us an occasion of sin..in which, without thinking or consenting, we identify with screened hatred, jealousy, spite and vengeance or with lustful cravings. There will be those who will be inclined to act out in real life what they've seen acted in the world of fiction, without realizing that the seeds of these dispositions were sown during a time of recreation.
At the very least God has taught me to reflect on my outburst in the cinema and to question seriously the effect the mass media of communication has on the innocence of my imagination, my desires and fears, and ultimately on my conduct. Mywaygodsways through a dinosaur, as it were.
In truth, 'Only a Film' -what a film !
Next week Isidore will reflect on, "Ears but cannot hear."
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Peter and Isidore