I was thinking today about what it would be like if movies were more like books. Think about it. Books and their readers have a very special relationship. The author of a book presents a dramatic narrative to the reader – often times in the abstract forms of similes, analogies, and suggestions – who must then participate by drawing upon personal knowledge and experience to create mental images that complement the story. Each experience is totally unique, and the reader may even generate new images to help rationalize new ideas.
With movies – and I’m talking about the movies we talk about ’round these parts – it’s a completely different game. Movies are narrative and visual and audible. They do all the work of telling the story for us, reducing the audience to a passive observer instead of an active participant. If movies and their audience members shared the same relationship that books and their readers enjoy, we’d go to the theater and be presented with a totally visual experience. With no words or dramatic structure to bog us down with confusing details, we have the opportunity to develop our own narratives.
The only downside is when the movie sucks we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.