When you first watched Jaws, you were likely scared of the huge, ruthless predator that kills people indiscriminately throughout the movie. Naturally, you assumed that the shark was the evil “bad guy” that the protagonists have to kill. If you were to rewatch it, however, you would realize that the true monster is not the fish, but the town mayor. You would understand that the film is a guide for thriller directors, and you would see the impact of a great soundtrack on the emotions of the audience. In fact, you would realize that the movie Jaws has more to do with human nature than it does with sharks.
Sometimes we do not necessarily catch onto these things when we first watch movies. It is only upon rewatching that we realize important details or the real meaning behind certain cinematic elements. Other times, it has simply been so long that we have completely forgotten the real lessons behind a film.
Rewatching movies and rereading books is the best way we have to understand the stories that have shaped and will continue to shape our world. The art of rewatching is not only acceptable but necessary, particularly in the case of classics. Seeing those movies one more time benefits you both in the immediate act of rewatching and in the greater influence that repeated action has on your intellect. In order to have the benefits of rewatching, however, you have to watch or read the classics in the first place. There are thus two important elements to this argument: watch classics and rewatch classics.
By seeing a movie or reading a book a second time, you give your brain the opportunity to focus on the details of the piece. As such, you begin to see props and understand conversations better than you did the first time. Take Fight Club, for example. The first time you watch that movie, you have the feeling that something is off right until the end, but no time to process it. When you rewatch it, you appreciate the director’s cinematic choices and the scriptwriters’ use of certain words to create that feeling much more. Knowing what will happen brings you comfort, and it gives your brain the chance to relax into something familiar.
However, revisiting literature can also bring you benefits far beyond the act of sitting in front of a screen and relaxing. For one, your current situation will make you interpret a movie or book differently. Thus, you will understand the meaning of the piece in a different way, and ultimately for a different reason in your life. This can be personal as well as societal, where your location in space and time will change the meaning of a book or movie. For example, reading 1984 now will make you draw parallels between the book and our reliance on technology that would not have been as strong when it was written.
This means that rewatching or rereading these books will also help you understand the world better. It is no coincidence that many classic books seem like they were written yesterday, and classic movies have themes that seem much more modern. A good piece of literature is timeless because it understands human nature. Therefore, when you consume a good piece of literature, you understand human nature better too. This goes for literal occurrences as well; you may not understand how dangerous book bans are until you have read Fahrenheit 451. Literature can warn us about behavior, as well as teach us about morality and ethics.
Revisiting these pieces is also just fun, and it gets more fun when you continue doing it. The reason for this is that the more you read and watch, the more you understand it. Most good literature alludes to other texts, which you should understand in order to really get to know the characters. For example, the beloved show Gilmore Girls is great as it is, but it becomes better when you understand why the character Rory Gilmore talks about Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina so often, and the parallels between both female leads.
Rewatching movies will always be worth it because there is nothing better than watching something that you know you are going to enjoy. The real educational benefits that it has are just a bonus. History always repeats itself, and many of the answers to our questions can likely be found in books and movies. Literature helps us understand things much better than we realize, while also giving us a few hours to relax. Revisiting the pieces makes the experience even more comforting. So next time you do not know what to watch, rewatch Jaws. I promise it is worth it.
Featured image: The Atlantic