Jaws was perhaps best known for its successful attempt to scare the living wits out of all cinema goers at the time, as well as its suspenseful, terror-inspiring theme song. Daa na. Daa na. Daa na…

I know it did for me! I was 16 and lived in Mt. Isa, a town the middle of a desert. But after the movie I had to walk home in the dark…  that first sit on a toilet…  I was traumatised! The fear that this movie had instilled in me was incredible. To this day I hate swimming in the ocean… and it all stemmed from this movie.

With all the advances in cinematography since 1975, this movie is not that ‘realistic’. But if you were to show this to a younger child today, it would have the same affect. Why a younger child… well, children are exposed to a variety of experiences at an earlier age now days. Such is the innocence of childhood now.

Needless to say, movies do affect us in different ways. They are designed that way. We are getting more and more realistic as technology advances. It is hard to determine what is real and what is not, visually. Films like Avatar were on the table many years before the technology could pull it off. It makes what you see, believable.

I love movies. I’m also an adult that has traveled and experienced many aspects of life. I have established and formed a moral basis to work upon… but am smart enough to know that a movie can affect that moral compass of mine. I have to work at correcting what a movie may draw me into, or redefine a difference conclusion. For me it just strengthens my position. But for many, they fall for the influence.

Think that through from your own experience at the movies. Have you ever cried because a movie captured your emotions? Titanic, Pursuit of Happyness, The Notebook, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Twilight… What made you laugh? The Life of Brian, Crocodile Dundee, Ground Hog Day, Wall-E… What scared you witless? Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs, Alien, Predator… Who hasn’t seen a movie that through the plausible story line an  injustice is righted through gratuitous violence? Rambo, Die Hard, The Godfather,  Terminator, Gran Torino…  And what delighted you from a pure technology feast of cinematography? Avatar, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Batman Begins, Harry Potter, Inception?

Movies are designed to solicit an emotion… be it fear, shock, laughter, sadness, tears, unbelief, anger.

Movies are designed to influence.

Why do companies pay big dollars for product placement in movies? Simply because it is a great and effective advertising medium. Take the movie Twilight. The advertisers were: American Eagle Outfitters, Chevrolet, CNN, Jeep, Nike, Porsche, Rainier, The North Face, University of Alaska, Volvo, Zippo. Yes, it works. That’s why they do it.

Movies are designed to indoctrinate.

Why so many American war movies?  War films have often been used as ‘flag-waving’ propaganda to inspire national pride and morale, and to display the nobility of one’s own forces while harshly displaying and criticising the villainy of the enemy, especially during war or in post-war periods. During WWII, the US President called the film makers to ‘help out to win the war’. Then there was 911 and the war on terrorism… sound familiar?

Why so many vampire movies, witchcraft movies, spiritual movies? Think about it.

But you know what really, I mean really, scares me?

When we allow a movie to change our reality … when we can not tell we are being influenced, manipulated or indoctrinated.

Just like Jaws influenced my young and impressionable mind and affected me, what movies affect you? Do you know?

Do you have an experience like mine? What subtle ways do you think movies affect us?