My Love for Boring Films

The Boring Conference – the fascinating world of the mundane and ordinary |  Conferences | The Guardian

In 9th grade, after reading about Joan of Arc, we watched Carl Dreyer’s 1928 The Passion of Joan of Arc, a French silent historical film. Some of the girls in our girl’s only boarding school were quickly bored, and continued to look at the teenage magazines they had smuggled into the auditorium, the rest of us were mesmerized by the screen.

A few weeks later, we watched a rather unknown black and white movie with Spencer Tracey “The seventh cross.” Seven men escape from a concentration camp. The Nazi’s put up seven crosses and haunt the men down -one by one. All but one. A story about courage and compassion. A movie I have never forgotten and wish to see again, now 40 years later. It was in English, with German undertitles so we could understand.

Both were challenging movies, both could easily be rated as BORING or SLOW.

Have you seen “The Bicycle Thief?” Without a doubt, one of the best films ever made and if you haven’t seen it? Why not? Because you don’t like subtitles, or because it’s black and white? Or because it’s not an American movie?

There are no boring movies, just boring people who can’t -or don’t want to connect.

I find that people who are bored by challenging films are often people who do not read much, who are not interested in learning a foreign language, who have not travelled beyond a vacation to Aunt Betsy, and who have little genuine interest in other cultures or other histories.

The issue with boring films at its deepest level, I think, is the lack of interest in other cultures and in experiences that are more complex and do not immediately yield pleasure or emotion that pervades American society. A mistake that starts early in our school system. We are not behind because we are dumb, we are behind the rest of the world because we ignore the rest of the world.

Bicycle Thieves: Ode to the Common Man | Current | The Criterion Collection
The Bicyle Thief – Ode to the common man

The challenge for teachers -and parents- everywhere is to awaken some interest in boring experiences and most importantly, to unpack those experiences-because at their core they reveal surprising insights about who we are as human beings.

There is a world out there and it’s ours to understand. The more we understand, the less we fear. The less we fear, the more open we are. The more open we are, the more we let in.

The more we come to understand our own humanity, the more we are able to understand and perceive the humanity in complex and challenging works of film or literature, and indeed, in other people. Good education is the key to unlocking the humanity that resides in all of us, in all its glorious, scary, joyful, and boring aspects.

Education is not only given in school. It starts at home.

From books and movies…to real life. What a small step it is, yet what big of an impact it can make.

Great films bring the world to us and even though we might not understand the language, we understand with our heart.

I fear for this nation. I fear for the world. I fear for our minds.

We are becoming cold-hearted, egotistic, narcissistic monsters.

A person who is bored and fails to explore that feeling, is a person who will always live within the status quo and who will let injustice happen. But the person who is in touch with his or her boredom and unpacks the wisdom in that profoundly uncomfortable emotion becomes an engaged citizen and human being.

We can’t change the older generation, but we can make sure the young generations behind us will be better in formed and less bored.

Original Theatrical Trailer | The Seventh Cross | Warner Archive - YouTube

20 thoughts on “My Love for Boring Films

  1. Once again pat on the back to my home state and even more so to my hometown school district. I just finished perusing a newsletter the school district sends to all (taxpaying?) residents and noted with interest a new program they have just started. It is a foreign language immersion kindergarten classroom with a purpose being to mix English language at home and foreign language at home learners. They will learn from each other as they grow because they will go through the successive grade levels together, too. Just this alone gives me hope that there are some outward looking and forward thinking parents to enroll their children in this program. If they all succeed as planned, there may be hope fir the future, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t have a lot of film watching to speak directly to your topic, Bridget, but I am a voracious reader, so feel like I could say almost the same thing regarding reading. It is a very rare time that I can even discuss what I’m reading with anyone. I think that attention spans have dwindled to a dangerously short period before they switch off. This can’t be good for intellectual curiosity, that’s for sure. I have never heard of the Bicycle Thief but will see if I can find it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am a bookworm myself and I know what you mean. I can’t talk about books with many people either. Always wanted to find a book club for good books, somehow I put it on the backburner -like so many other things.
      “The bicycle Thief” is on youtube and for Christmas I send you my favorite book (if you haven’t read it already.) “Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
      (I so love your comments.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have read “Man’s Search for Meaning,” and it has been a while since I did. I think of it sometimes and wonder about even reading it again. It was profound. I could have guessed you were a big reader! It’s a joy, isn’t it? 🙂


        • I love books, they are everywhere in our home. While I have a kind and a tablet, I have stacks of books on my nightstand, a few in my workroom and some on a side table in the living room. I love to read. I also love to listen to books. I have a nice audiobook collection and listen to it when I work.


  3. You make a valid point. The problem with society right now is that people have short attention spans and turn to their phones for entertainment. This happens in schools, too. So, kids aren’t going to sit through a film that doesn’t have enough action in it. It’s unfortunate that our world is like this. I fear much will be lost because of it.


  4. You have packed a lot into this piece and I love the challenge you throw out to teachers and parents. This is something close to my heart. We need our children and grandchildren to spend time outside to learn about their environment; to read widely to broaden their vocabulary, feed their imaginations, and to vicariously experience other ways of living; to learn to listen/watch the news in a critical manner; and to learn how to weigh up the options and voice their considered opinions with confidence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right. I packed a lot into it. Sometimes my finger and my brain take over and a post writes itself.
      You are so spot on with the kids not spending enought time outside. How can you cherish the environment if you hardly know anything about it?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree wholeheartedly Bridget. The UK took a giant backward step by leaving the EU. Both government and a large portion of the public now look on any immigration as a bad thing and believe that any foreigner is seeking to steal UK jobs and benefits. Now where have we seen that before I wonder?

    Liked by 1 person

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