Watching movies is like looking through a window into other worlds. But watching Voir, a six-part series from David Fincher and Netflix, forces us to change our focus. Now we are watching our own reflections in the window as the movies play in the background. That self-awareness can be uncomfortable as the presenters of each visual essay force us to confront how the movies affect us, the viewers. Passive entertainment is turned inside out and backwards before our eyes.
The series starts with Sasha Stone (editor and main contributor of awardsdaily.com) reminiscing about the summertime release of Jaws and how it changed her life. Stone narrates over scenes from the movie and reenactments of her childhood. Spielberg's blockbuster changed movies forever and is an appropriate place to begin the series. Every moviegoer can point to a film that had a personal and profound influence.
From there, the second episode takes a hard look at revenge in film. Tony Zhou and Taylor Ramos (from the popular YouTube Channel Every Frame a Painting) show us how easily our sympathies can be manipulated to cheer for the vigilante and justify violence. But in the end, we have to confront whether or not we would do the same in that situation and weigh the cost.
Another episode, “The Duality of Appeal,” gives us a look into the world of animation and character development. Why are most female characters drawn the same way, and why do we find those particular shapes appealing? Another episode asks how we can love movies with main characters we hate and if that’s a reflection of our own dark inclinations. “Film vs Television” is exactly what it sounds like. And the first season wraps up with, “Profane and Profound,” a look at the controversial yet influential movie 48 Hours.
“Profane and profound” could also be used to describe Voir as a whole. The film clips are selected to make clear points, not to be family friendly. Sure, we can find much of the same content, minus the interviews, licensed film clips, and nostalgia-soaked reenactments, for free online. Nevertheless, wherever we find it, a little guidance in healthy introspection of the things we watch is a good thing.
Jesus said, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness” (Luke 11:34). Just as the movie projector’s lamp sends information from the film to light up the screen, our eyes take what we see on the screen and project it into our minds. “Therefore,” Jesus said, “be careful lest the light in you be darkness.”
“Voir” can be translated as both “to see” and “to understand.” It’s easy to just see a movie. But to really understand one might require multiple viewings and conscient consideration. The effort is worthwhile because the storytellers understand how movies affect us. Can we always say the same?