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Transport me. Please.
For me, the main purpose of art is transportation. I'm not talking about murals on the sides of buses. I'm talking about the singular ability of art to pull us, Alice-like, through the Looking Glass and into other realms.
I have always maintained that the fictional depiction of such journeys—as when Aeneas descends into the Underworld, or when the Pevensie kids go through the wardrobe to Narnia—is really about what happens when a person encounters art. In fact, in the second Narnian story, the kids literally climb into a painting. But however it happens, Alice and Aeneas and everyone else go someplace otherwise inaccessible—to the other side of the rainbow, the horizon, the mirror—and then, even better than that, they return, still the same, but somehow ineffably changed. They come back from the dead, as it were, and tell us about it. And their journey is a picture of what it is to read a story, or view a painting or a film; you enter a realm beyond your own and then you return to your own realm, but you are not the same. To put it yet another way, you fall asleep and dream and wake up.
And nothing can take us elsewhere more quickly and powerfully than movies. There is something about the visual and aural power of film that is unparalleled. If the sound is good enough and the screen is large enough and the other people in the audience eat their popcorn quietly enough we can sometimes vault up into the darkness and over the bar at the edge of Reality and fall and fall like Alice into another world. This, generally, is why I go to movie theaters.
But most movies these days don't aspire to pull their audiences into other worlds the way they used to, and that is why I often find myself hissing like a treed cat at the current state of cinema. I am especially bothered because never before in the history of film have special effects been so good. Digital technology can take us to Mars and make it convincing even to a jaded adult. So when movies don't use ...