TV vs. Film: Television is Queen

By Brenna Middleton

Edit: I should add that when I talk about movies/film here I am generally discussing big budget productions rather than indie movies.

While we’re all eagerly awaiting the release of Games of Thrones Season 7, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on what makes shows like GOT so compelling. More so than any film that’s come out recently. I can’t pinpoint exactly when I fell out of love with movies, but somewhere along the line the anticipation for new releases started to fade. Sure, I watch trailers and think, ‘that could be interesting,’ but I rarely seek them out upon release. Television shows are a different story. We live in a time where there is so much good television to consume—it’s hard to keep up. I finish one series and instantly crave a new one. Unlike film, TV rarely disappoints.

What is it about television that makes it so much more enticing than film? Some may argue that our attention spans have become so short that sitting through a two-hour movie is tedious. Perhaps, but how would that explain binge-watching? Story-wise, movies actually have very little time to work with. TV escapes film’s limitations as a medium. Rather than packing everything into two short hours, TV shows give their characters and storylines room to breathe. The audience is given time to care.

Film is still a fantastic medium when its done right (I’m looking at you, Get Out). I think what it’s guilty of more than anything is trying to do too much. The thought crossed my mind while watching Kong: Skull Island. Kong had the misfortune of being bogged down by too many characters. Each one was so thinly sketched that it was hard to care about any of them. The movie seemed to have the mentality of a video game. Each encounter with a creature on the island was just time to gear up before the big boss battle. But bigger does not equal better, and less is more. All I’m asking for is a little restraint.

Movies, TV, video games—they all have their own unique way of telling a story. While video games and television have grown more sophisticated, film has forgotten what makes it shine. What do most of my favourite films have in common? They take one self-contained story and explore the depths within it. I understand the temptation to throw everything you’ve got into one movie and hope it sticks, but that rarely makes for a good film.

Photo credit: Helen Sloan – © 2017 – HBO

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