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Film and society, impact and reflection

  1. Definition of Film and Society

Film is a series of moving pictures, usually shown in a cinema or on television and often telling a story. (Mostly it was recorded on a length of dark plastic-like material which can record images as photographs or as a moving picture.)

Society is a large group of people who live together in an organized way, making decisions about how to do things and sharing the work that needs to be done. All the people in a country, or in several similar countries, can be referred to as a society

2. Film Background and History

In 1826, the process of photography was first developed by French Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. He was the first person to make practical use of a camera and film.

During the 1830s, Louis Daguerre, another French inventor improved Niepce’s technique and created the first popular form of photography-daguerreotype.

And, during 1870s, a photographer Eadweard Muybridge, made a series of still picture of a galloping horse actually lifts all four hooves off the ground at the same time. Thomas Edison invented motion picture camera in 1888 and a projector in 1892.

The Hollywood, California, was chose for its weather and natural outdoor lighting by independent producers. Larger screens and better image quality made more complex action sequences possible but most of films, during that time, were showed in short black-and-white, and silent. (1903-1927)

After 1915, several major film studios developed their own complete teams of actors, writers, directors, technician, and equipment that enabled them to produce large numbers of successful feature film.

In the early 1920s, sound technology was developed. The film, Jazz Singer in 1927, had a little bit of spoken dialogue, which fascinated the audience.

“Talkies” ended the golden ages of silent movies. By 1933, almost films were talkies, and those kinds of films made more money for the producers.

During 1930s to 1940s, most people went to the movies at least weekly. Every week, around 90 million Americans went to see movies.

3. Genres in Film

According to Cambridge Advance Learner’s Dictionary, the term ‘Genre’ means a style, especially in art that involves a particular set of characteristics. However, the basic genres encountered in film sector are the categories that label the aisles of video stores such as comedy, drama, action, horror, science fiction, classic, family, Westerns, animation, and foreign. These genres continue to dominate, and filmmakers blend classic genres to reach very broad audiences both in the United States and abroad.

4. Film & Society, how both of them related and who come first:

Both film and society relate to each other like mirrors. Most of the time film is a reflection of things that are happening in society. Sometimes, this is directly reflecting society. For example, a film in the 1960s in Cambodia such as “Joy of Living” was reflecting life in Phnom Penh for the rich people who had money to go out to nightclubs.  In the same way, “Rice People” that was produced by Rithy Pan is the other side of reflection about the poor farmers who are struggling hard to make enough money to eat.  Films reflect society in this way because the audience can understand what is happening in the movie and they can form an emotional bond with the film. Within this way the film “talks” to the audience about what is happening in their lives or in the society they live in.

Sometimes, society itself reflects film if the film presents ideas that are new and these ideas become part of society.

Most times like this, a film will have a subject that most people do not know about and the film will reveal something about society so people can talk about it and accept new ideas, for example, a film such as “An Inconvenient Truth”. This is a famous documentary about climate change. Many people did not know much about this subject before the film was illustrated, but the information was so clear and persuasive that many people became aware of climate change. From being a “fringe” topic, climate change came into the mainstream of news and society largely because of this film.

Mainstream Hollywood movies do not usually bring new ideas to society. It is mostly independent movies that do this because the independent filmmakers are much more willing to approach strong and sometimes controversial topics. For example, the Australian film “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” was about 3 men who dress as women and perform at nightclubs. Before this film many people in Australia did not like men who dress as women, but this film “Priscilla” was so well made, so funny and showed these men were just the same as everyone else except they like to wear dresses.

Now, most people in Australia do not think badly about this type of man. So, the film such as this can help change society. Plus, the Priscilla film was noted for its positive portrayal of LGBT individuals, helping to introduce LGBT themes to a mainstream audience.

Most of documentaries not only changes society but it also does influence people. A great example is “Super Size Me”. In this film the director ate nothing but only food that he bought from McDonalds and within a month he found out himself getting fat and dangerously sick. The film was a huge success and it forced McDonalds to change the food they serve and it also made many people realize how dangerous food such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken are.

5. Film: Advantages & Disadvantages

Each film contains two different aspects both advantages and disadvantages. Some provide viewer good concept while others lead people to commit wrongdoing in society. For example, some students are likely spending too much time watching television or movie and leave their school works aside. Here the following are some main points mentioning over pros and cons of film:


  • Entertainment: It is so true that film can entertain you when you are bored. You can watch any other film, which you like.
  • Share the culture of each country: It is a way that the viewers can learn from the other country by film.
  • Inspiration: It can give your ideas when you watch film. You can make it as your reference and share to people what you have learned from watching that film.
  • Watching film also can save your money by not hanging out.
  • Socialize: You can go to the cinema with friends to get to know more people. It can be a way that you can socialize yourself among new people or your friends.
  • Lesson of teamwork: Making movie is not an easy task, and it requires a lot of people getting involve altogether like actors, director, etc.
  • Imagination: Some movies are made from comic book, or any other. Unbelievable things can be shown in the film; so it can create your imagination through the film.
  • Educate us: some films also can educate us like history, science, culture, technology, politic, etc.


    • Wasting time: make sure that you are not addicted with films. It can affect both your work and study if you spend your time watching a couple of films without doing anything.
    • Wasting Money: don’t buy film as compulsory. Moreover some movies just make trailer so attractive while the whole story is not good at all.
    • Movie professes violence: It is shown by movie nowadays especially violence film. It can affect to the viewers, epically kids, and youths.
    • Movies are made for profit: Nowadays filmmakers are so selfish. They think only about making money without caring what the people can affect from their movie especially sexual scenes.
    • Personal opinion: It is true that film is made from personal imagination. It shows some truth, while some also fake. However no one knows that this individual opinion can affect people in the community or the whole society.

Propaganda: Film is one of the other ways that can be used as propaganda.

6. How film impacts viewers:

We watch films with our eyes and ears, but we experience films with our minds and bodies. Films do things to us, but we also do things with them. A film pulls a surprise; we jump. It sets up scenes; we follow them. It plants hints; we remember them. It prompts us to feel emotions; we feel them.


Film matters for the same reason all art matters – because it embodies and conveys the values and beliefs of the culture within which and for which it is made. Popular art forms, such as film, are of special importance because they speak to the most central of those values and beliefs. Film works so well because it takes us into its world with scarcely any effort on our part. But in a more profound sense, film matters because, again like other cultural products, it tells us something about ourselves and gives meaning to our lives. It can help audiences; ‘old’ and ‘new’, to rethink their place in the world, and crucially, it can also motivate them to do something about the injustices and exploitation to which they are witness.

Film matters, among other things, because it has an extraordinary capacity to expand our reality, to deepen our moral sensibility, and to shape our self-understandings, sometimes by moving us closer to cultures, problems, and realities that are distant from those we know well.

The Arts have a way of inspiring us. Great writing can be compelling; Art, Music and Dance can be moving and tell powerful stories. Films will live forever now with the technology we have to sore them.

Film gives us: 1) inspiration, to give a dream to people, 2) a message that make you move, 3) Phenomenal

Movies are usually a more literal form of art, where much is explained directly through dialogue, people’s facial expression, music in the background, etc. Good movies, of course, let us think and wonder about them, and give us an insight into our own soul. Movie is amazing mood boosters.

Films Educates Us

Films are platter of various disciplines; they show us history, culture, science, technology, politics and lot more. These disciplines are not confined to one particular region; these educate us on varying geographical regions across various time lines. We come to know about the past, the present and the future. In fact visual medium is means of better education as we retain information for a long time when we visually see it. The uneducated also benefits from the content of the movies as he needs only eyes and not the skill to read or write to understand a literary classic or hi-fi flick. They haven’t said it just like that? A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words?

Films Inspire Us

Films inspire us in more than ways that we can imagine. Some profound inspirations are given to us by inspirational movies. The old age stories of the victory of the good over evil are apt at towards their objective. Films inspire us to be brave, clever, insightful, experimental, loyal, determined and other virtues which make us positive minded. While not all movies are inspirational but you never know what may inspire whom and through which film? Apart from this we get inspired by the film industry itself. Most of the stars, directors etc. have a story of struggle, hard work and how they reached at the top? These examples themselves become source of inspiration, though in an indirect manner. Similarly, when movies win certain awards it arouses within us an urge to shine in our respective field of work.

Brand activity, Health and Mental health

A recent study by New York University neuroscientists has found that watching certain films affects brain activity more than others. In cinema, some films lead most viewers through a similar sequence of perceptual, emotional, and cognitive states. Such a tight grip on viewers’ minds will be reflected in the similarity of the brain activity across most viewers. By contrast, other films exert – either intentionally or unintentionally – less control over viewers’ responses during movie watching. In such cases we expect that there will be less control over viewers’ brain activity.

A study by researchers at the University of Maryland found that laughing while watching a comedic film causes your blood vessels to dilate by 22 percent. That’s because when you laugh, the tissues forming the lining of your blood vessels expand and make room for an increase in blood flow. Translation: When you laugh at the movies, you’re actually lowering your blood pressure to the same extent that you’d lower it when you do physical exercise, said Dr. Michael Miller, director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Preventive Cardiology. To get the biggest heart-healthy benefit from watching comedies, you should be watching movies that make you do a real belly laugh for at least 15 minutes, Miller said. Laughter while watching comedies can relieve anxiety, as well as reduce aggression and fear. Know before you go: Watching a horror movie can cause a spike in adrenaline and cortisol levels. That can trigger memories of traumatic events you have experienced, said Bruce McEwen, professor in the neuroendocrinology laboratory at The Rockefeller University in New York, and past president of the Society for Neuroscience. So if you have a bad memory that you don’t want to subconsciously rehash, it would be best to avoid this genre until you’re ready.

In a rather groundbreaking study, Konlaan, Bygren and Johansson found that frequent cinema attendees have particularly low mortality risks –those who never attended the cinema had mortality rates nearly 4 times higher than those who visit the cinema at least occasionally (Konlaan, Bygren, and Johansson 2000).

They give us a way to explore the past, the present and the future. Film continues to provide audiences and the individual spectator with incomparable opportunities to experience imaginatively the lives of others, which can only affect and enrich us, making us more rounded individuals by such encounters.

7. How film impacts the society:

Movies are Mirrors to Society. Films are inspired from our daily lives whether partially or fully. Most of the films have a certain portions where we really get to see what we know but don?t think deeply about it. Various films depict historical, mythological scientific and social themes. These are reflections of society, both present and past. Movies show the aftermath of a war, social evils, political strategies, human rights infringement and various other sensitive issues. A wide platform as films is most effective in presenting these issues to the public at large. They create awareness, build civic sense, and ensure public morality and their propagation.

Films do play a very significant role in all the lives of people who watch them. Some of them do not believe films are important and may not watch any, following others say watching film is a waste of time. Within this, it may sometimes true or untrue. However, films do impact our lives both either directly or indirectly. According to Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary-3rd the term ‘Impactmeans to have influence on something or the force of one object hitting another. So, there are times when there is a positive impact on our lives and there are times when there is a negative impact on our lives. These following are briefing overview of film that impact society:

Positive Impact:

  • Present or depict reality in society

Certain movies or films still present positive roles as well, and not all movies are bad. Some movies aim to create awareness about the socioeconomic and political state of affairs of nation. It helps to spread awareness about the evils of drug abuse, alcoholism, HIV, and the evils of having many sexual partners. Plus, movies create awareness about the importance of education, medicine, art and politics.

  • Bring society creative ideas

Movies help to boost our imagination. We think about the things we saw and then we take our imagination a little further and visualize. This is one of the reasons why the animation industry is gaining more and more enthusiastic entrants, who wish to learn the tricks of trade.

  • Generates employment

Since there are so many people involved in making and producing a movie, it naturally has a wide scope for new job openings. The more the people involved, the better job provided. However, it requires specialized training and knowledge in order to work for a movie.

  • Provides social entertainment

Movies act as an escape hatch for people who wish to forget about all their worries, frustrations and tensions. It entertains them and makes them focus of thing which have nothing to do with their own personal lives.

Negative Impact:

  • Spread propaganda

Movies are successfully able to influence its viewers to a very large extent, which is exactly what the advertising industry capitalizes on. They use a few seconds of movie footage in order to market their products to the whole world.

For instance, a new car model, or new designer clothes and accessories, are showcased to the world by the actors enacting their roles. This results in us finding out about the new product through the internet and through discussions with friends. This way, the chain of advertising and communication of the information continues in a flow smooth, without making the advertising companies spend a dime.

  • Affects lifestyle: Everything we watch and listen to, affects and influences us at some level or the other. Since we consider actors as superiors and almost have god-like devotion for them, whatever they do affects us as well. We try to imitate and behave like them. We copy their newest fashion trends, the way they speak, and the lifestyles they lead, both on and off-screen. This is exactly why smoking in movies has been banned, because people watch their favorite actors smoking on-screen and it makes the people of society feel that they too must try it.

What else film says:

Media affects our culture in many ways. For instance, movies have significantly affected our moral beliefs as well, by seriously jeopardizing the very foundation of marriage and faith in god. Movies have their own plus and negative points, just like everything else in the world. Nonetheless, movies and their impact on society run very deep and has become an integral part of our very existence. It affects us in more ways than we can imagine.

Film impacts all cultures in different ways. It also sets trends. Usually, film will take something that might be small in culture and help to make it big. For example, the spy comedy “Austin Powers” made 60s clothes and 60s music very popular again in the 90s. The Matrix films had a big influence on how people respond to the Internet and the technology that is in security and surveillance in their lives. The Australian children’s film “Babe” was a huge international hit about a loveable pig that was meant to be killed for food. After it was made the sales of pork and bacon went down dramatically around the world because children said to their parents that they “did not want to eat Babe”!

Lately in the USA there have been many films about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan “The Hurt Locker”, is one that have made many people question whether the USA (and Australia!) should be involved at all – and what are the other reasons why these wars are fought, such as big companies making profits.

A serious case lately, which also had caught public attention, is the kill of Chris Steven, US ambassador to Libya and three others of American embassy staffs after an anti-Islam film, called “Innocence of Muslims” produced by American filmmaker, appeared on YouTube to depict Islam as a religion of violence and hate, and its Prophet Muhammad as a foolish and power-hungry man. This is a so-called profanity of film that other references alleged Muhammad to have affairs with women, was greedy and violent would clearly be insulting in any context.

In Cambodia, there are some films that impact local culture and trends in a negative view as well. For example, a series of TV drama called “Pka Khnong Pka” which was produced by a well-known female film director Poan Phoung Bopha, had portrayed Cambodian women were auctioned by rich people to be their wife, comparing women to thing or animal for selling and buying. This drama was not successful ended its screening on television due to having a huge criticism from public audience and banning from Information Ministry to Cambodian Television Network (CTN) to stop displaying in 2011, saying this Khmer drama degraded the women’s reputation and it adversely affects Khmer tradition and Women’s dignity.

8. Conclusion and Analysis

What film exactly is:

Movies are stories; movies are people who come out with ideas about something to what extent they want to say something and they want to tell someone. Movies are a form of communication that communicate among those stories coming from societies—not just where society is presently and what it’s doing now—but where society has been. It’s been that way for as long as movies have been around!

Why does film matter:

For some people, that would be like asking: why does food matter? There is simply a need that has to be fulfilled – a need to experience meaningful, life enriching stories unfolding on the screen.

As long as we continue to enjoy the peculiar sensation of gathering with a bunch of strangers in a darkened theatre, film will still matter.

9. References

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary_3rd Edition


Film History, Theory and Practice by Robert C. Allen and Douglas Gomery (1995)


Why Film,

What is film impact?

True leader,

Great father (Thai commercial),