Why Do Movies … Move? Silver Screen Self Care

Why is a movie called a movie?

It’s short for moving pictures, bunches of still images moving so, so fast – 24 frames per second, in most cases – that it fools the eye. An illusion. MAGIC.

And it has the power to move us.

Literally moving audiences?

Legend has it that the short 1896 film, L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat, or Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, by French filmmakers The Luimiere Brothers, caused a minor panic as an image of an on screen train seemingly rushed at the audience and they moved to get out of the way!


Cool story. Too bad it is likely an urban myth. But even still, amazed viewers would stand in long lines to witness the spectacle. The imagination was sparked.

Much like a good book, an effective movie can transport us to new worlds, outside of ourselves. Movies move us. Its magic moved patrons a century and a quarter ago and it still moves us today. What keeps us spellbound?

Cinema Therapy

“We live in a box of space and time. Movies are windows in its walls. They allow us to enter other minds, not simply in the sense of identifying with the characters, although that is an important part of it, but by seeing the world as another person sees it.”

– Roger Ebert

Can films move us to rethink things and influence attitudes and behaviors? History says yes! After Bambi (1942) came out, deer hunting was cut in half. Unsurprisingly, Jaws took a bite out of the beach tourism numbers in the aftermath of its run in 1975. The Day After Tomorrow, scientifically flawed and implausible as it was, led to an increased concern about global warming. Moreover, movies like 2018’s BlackKKKlansman have a way of grabbing the public consciousness and pushing social issues of the day to the forefront.

We laugh. We cry. We hurl (Thanks, Wayne’s World)? As the credits start to roll, just like that, we inevitably move back into ourselves again. Then the reflection begins. What did we just experience?

Cinema can also be therapeutic. According to The Best Brain Possible with Debbie Hampton, there are mental health benefits to watching movies. She says:

  • Movies encourage emotional release.
  • Sad films make you happier.
  • Movies can help you make sense of real life.
  • Movies can give you a mental break.
  • Scary movies can actually calm anxiety.
  • Movies bring relief, even if they stress you out at first.

All that brings us to this blog. The mission is to continually highlight a movie – or something from other film mediums like television – and the “Silver Screen Self Care” that can be gleaned from it. We are glad you are here for the journey. Welcome to Movies That Move Us!


  1. April

    Interesting read! I guess I never thought much about the mental health benefits of watching movies…but it makes sense. I’m looking forward to reading more.

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      Scott Harrison Rees

      Thanks, April! And for sure! I was surprised, myself, learning about how sad movies can make us happier and horror movies helping with anxiety. It feels counter intuitive, doesn’t it? I would encourage you to read Debbie Hampton’s linked blog post which explains more on that.

  2. Sarah

    I absolutely love the idea of watching movies as self care. There aren’t many movies that I enjoy viewing over and over and over again. But the few that I do love that much absolutely make me feel better (even if they’re sad!) when watched.

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  3. Betsy R

    Not so certain that scary films can actually calm anxiety for everyone! It is so true though that movies do help us in so many ways to understand the world around us. They can also be great ways to learn about history if done correctly.

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  4. Unwanted Life

    Movies can often hit me in the feels. One of my favourite movies, Hotel Rwanda, makes you feel a range of emotions from sadness for the people of Rwanda to anger at the UN. It’s truly a great film

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