When I Fall in Love with a Film

"Truth in science can be defined as the working hypothesis best suited to open the way to the next better one"
Konrad Lorens

Ever get sick of people repeating memorized lines from a film while you're trying to watch it? It's aggravating and makes the film experience uncomfortable. Why? Well, I have a theory. It's like a double date where one couple is already steaming up the windows and the other is still on overly polite "getting to know you" behavior. The back seat is already in love. The front seat is still saying their howdy-do's.

"Imprinting" is a theory of attachment discovered by German ethologist Niko Tinbergen or Konrad Lorenz who shared the 1973 Nobel Prize with Tinbergen and Karl von Frisch. I don't have my facts straight about who learned which part of this associative behavior stuff, but it has something to do with a rise in the body's levels of the chemical dopamine. Basically, it means you and I click and I'm suddenly taking mental engravings of the most miniscule and unimportant things about you -- a wrinkle in your smile, a cute unevenness in your hairline. Everything about you suddenly becomes special and I memorize it effortlessly.

My theory is that's what happens when we fall in love with a film -- imprinting. We all imprint in different ways but we attach ourselves to the film the same way we attach ourselves to anyone or anything else we fall in love with. That's why we memorize lines, music, and events -- we're in love.

My own imprinting of a film is three part:

(1) The score makes an audio imprint some place in the emotional side of my brain. I can hear any portion of the score later and tell you exactly where it was in the film and I relive the mystery, the adrenaline or the tears. It's like still hearing the voice of a person you're in love with long after you've hung up the phone.

(2) I identify my own set pieces -- lines or moments that I'll never forget and it won't necessarily be the ones filmmakers expect. Those lines and moments resurface in my brain even when I need them to go away so I can do my job, pay some bills, or work on my own writing. It's like that marvelous "new love" feeling that makes your chest flutter when you think about a special word or gesture or -- a kiss.

(3) I find myself loathe to watch other films that I expect to pale in what are usually unfair comparisons. Why bother going out with anyone else? I'll never feel about anyone the same way.

So, yeah, that's how falling in love with films works -- imprinting. Oh, and just like my children, dog, or the love of my life, tread warily when you speak of them in my presence. I and only I am free to criticize. Anyone else is running the risk of a black eye.

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