When I was a student in college, the walls of my youthful worldview began to collapse as I discovered the films of Ingmar Bergman, François Truffaut, Federico Fellini and other directors. My friends and I loved discussing The Seventh Seal, The 400 Blows and La Strada. But one night, after a date at the movies, my girlfriend accused me of taking films– especially “foreign” films– too seriously. The accusation hurt my feelings because I thought she meant there was something wrong with me. She made it clear: that was exactly what she meant.
It was true that when I first saw Disney’s Pinocchio as a little boy, I was so terrified when the whale swallowed the puppet/boy that I turned my back to the screen. I can tell you what the rest of the audience in the theatre looked like as they watched the film, but I refused to look at it. So my girlfriend was right; I certainly had taken Pinocchio much too seriously. But why, I wondered? What was wrong with me? As a young man I knew that there were several things wrong with me, but only later did it occur to me that taking films seriously wasn’t one of them. It was her problem, not mine: she didn’t take films seriously enough. So we broke up.