Besides various other arts forms, Cinema is close to my heart. Since my childhood I have been a movie buff as I remember spending all my pocket money on watching rented cinema from a nearby VHS tape vendor. What mattered to me the most was the story of the film, maybe the budding writer in me was curious to understand the structure and the flow of story, even as a kid. The reason I am fascinated with the medium of Cinema is that, I believe, it is not just a medium of entertainment, but also a medium to seek information and heal, particularly if the cinema has inspirational value. After I took up a career in Psychology, the routine of watching cinema took a back seat, until the OTT platforms got popular. But the craze to visit film festivals and watch back to back movies was kept alive, irrespective of my work commitments. But it was in year 2012, when I visited U.S.A, I got to know about a unique concept that combined Cinema & Psychology to form a therapy. During one of my visits to the Columbus Public Library located in Ohio state I came across a book on Cinema Therapy written by Dr. Gary Soloman. He had highlighted how movies can be used for therapeutic purpose & thereby had the power to improve the mental health of people. Indeed, a good Cinema Therapy session has the potential to positively change individual’s thoughts, feelings & ability to manage life events. As a budding Psychologist then, I was naturally drawn towards the concept as I could see huge scope to bind three of my passions together i.e Writing, Cinema & Counseling!
After a lot of reading about Cinema Therapy and how to go about with it, finally in year 2019 I presented my first Cinema Therapy session based on the movie ‘Shawshank Redemption’. Then in early 2020, the second session took placed based on the movie ‘Cast Away’. Thereafter I wanted to conduct more such sessions, but the pandemic restrictions proved to be a hurdle for me to do so. But the moment the government relaxed the restrictions in this April, I presented the 3rd Cinema Therapy session, based on the movie ‘Life is Beautiful’. The session was held on 8th April 2022, at Soundideaz Academy, a premier Media educational institute which is committed to provide Sound Engineering & Music Production related training. www.soundideazacademy.in
‘Life is Beautiful’ is an Oscar award winning Italian movie which tells the story of a happy go lucky Jewish family man, Guido. The first half of the movie is sheer fun, wit and comedy, as Guido woos his lady love and manages to open a book store, inspite of the gloom of the Nazi invasion hovering the town in which he lives. Finally, when the Nazis invade the town, Guido and his 5 year old son, Joshua, are taken away by the Nazi guards. At this point Guido creates a positive ‘Game’ narrative for his son to perceive the concentration camp life in a more positive and bearable manner. Guido tells his son that the concentration camp people are playing a game where all had to earn points by doing some hard tasks, eg. Staying hungry for hours or hiding in the dark corners of the room unless asked to come out. On successful completion of per task, the boy is convinced that the points will add up and what he would win is an army tank! Till the end the little boy is cleverly & humorously protected by his father from getting emotionally tampered with all the horrors of the concentration camp. Here’s the trailer of the movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAYEQP8gx3w
The movie has a Cathartic effect as one laughs and also sheds a tear, as the story unfolds. Its entertaining too, as the background music and the funny moments makes you relax and enjoy. And above all the movie has tremendous inspirational value, as one learns how ‘perception matters’ in creating reality!
The audience at the session loved the presentation and the discussion that followed thereafter. The major takeaway of the movie is ‘Learn to edit your Life’ & apply positive metaphors to digest the adversities of life. Here’s an Instagram link to the video gist of the session: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CcQX1Wuq4pD/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y= A beautiful quote by the famous Psychologist Alfred Adler sums the movie’s central cinema therapy theme. i.e “Life is not what happens to you, rather Life is what one makes out of it”!
Photo Courtesy: Shraddha C. Sankulkar & Soundideaz Academy, Andheri (W) Mumbai, India.