How I Became A Cinephile During Lockdown
“Film is a mosaic made up of time.”
— Andrei Tarkovsky
No matter how hard I try, I can’t put my finger on the one true moment when I fell in love with cinema: maybe it was my first viewing of No Country for Old Men; the opening scene of Hard Eight; or the Tears in Rain monologue from Blade Runner.
One thing is sure though, my passion was only solidified during the lockdown in 2020. Like many others, I found myself having a lot of extra time on my hands. Stuck at home, films provided a much-needed escape.
Before that, I remember watching some classics like Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon and Coen Brothers’ Fargo, but I never really fully understood their depth. But now I find myself falling in love with it again and again with newer films like Belfast, The Worst Person in the World, and Drive my Car.
In late April of 2021, after watching Dark City, as the credits rolled, I realized how solidified my habit had become. It was beyond mood swings and daily worries — it was a stable and consistent ritual. Through all the highs and lows that have followed since then, it's one thing I've never given up on.
At some point along the way, I suppose I made an agreement with myself: no matter how bleak and shitty my day was, in the end, there’d be a film in which I could lose myself. That simple self-assurance gave me some strength in a life filled with uncertainty. It became something I could hold on to and something I could count on.
One magical element of storytelling is that it is subjective, which means that every person views it in their unique way through the lens of their personal goals and experiences.
One side-effect of this is that I can experience trials and tribulations from the perspective of characters; this makes life more digestible and livable. In addition to that, listening to other peoples’ take on films also made me more open-minded and receptive. When someone has a different take on a film, it presents you with an entirely new way of at looking things. This connected me to an entire community of cinephiles. YouTube channels like CinemaTyler, Nerdwriter1, and StudioBinder taught me a lot too.
Whereas before I struggled to bond with people, films became an easy talking point. As a result, I bonded well with other cinephiles, talking about everything from Andrey Zvyagintsev to Park Chan-wook to François Truffaut.
They made me see things differently. Eventually, this lead not only to a deep understanding of the power of cinematography—of telling stories through moving images — but also about how stories unite us all: the one thread that is woven through everybody’s life, the one language that everyone understands.
Like a lot of people, I’ve always had trouble with meditation. My mind always wanders. Yet, since I know the benefits of meditation, I’ve never given up on it. However, even in this regard films have helped me.
Especially in more slow-paced and calmer films, I often go into a deep meditative state. This was something I’d struggled to achieve with breathing exercises and meditation apps, but to no avail. I started noticing little details in the frame nobody else did. Every scene transition acted as a meditative bell, beckoning me to stay immersed and present.
It’s a deep sense of joy and lightness. I’m so immersed that everything else just fades into nothingness. As a result of that level of connection, some moments are just carved into my subconscious mind. They pop up occasionally during my day, and make me a question and reassess the way I live my life.
Getting Inspired and Moving Ahead
And it goes beyond films too, there are so many actors and directors and artists that have inspired me to chase my dream of becoming a writer: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sidney Lumet, Paul Thomas Anderson, Craig Mazin, Jeff Nichols, and many more.
There are a lot of things in my life that aren’t perfect right now. But when I take a seat in a movie theatre or turn off the lights and switch on the TV at home, I become part of something infinitely bigger than myself. My only hope is that someday I can tell my own stories too.