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Steven Spielberg has thus far had one of the most successful Directorial careers in the history of cinema.  His movies include:  Jaws,(1975), Close Encounters of the Third Kind, (1977), E.T., (1982), Raiders of the Lost Ark, (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, (1984), The Color Purple, (1985), Empire of the Sun, (1987), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, (1989), Schindler's List, (1993), Jurassic Park, (1993), and most recently, Saving Private Ryan.  Although the themes vary, one of the things that makes his movies so powerful is that he provides characters that we can empathize with and become emotionally involved with in powerful ways. 


When I see a really good movie, it is not uncommon for me to feel like I am the person from the film when I exit the theatre.  Also, although I am fully aware that this is all a marvelous illusion, during the film I cry, I cringe in fear, all the emotions come into play if the film is a good one.


What is also interesting is that this can happen even with cartoon characters.  Walt Disney was a master at this and children and adults empathize with and become emotionally involved with human and animal cartoon characters.  Pinocchio, Bambi, Snow White, et cetera, all powerfully effected me as a child and helped to form my moral code through the empathy they evoked.


This is what the Roe v. Wade struggle is all about, at least in part.  Some of us empathize with the unborn infant, others empathize with the mother.  Those of us who empathize with both find the simplistic arguments of the two sides of this struggle unacceptable.


What is terribly important about all of this empathizing and emotional involvement in various movie and other media messages is that we need to be aware that someone else is influencing how we feel and think about very important issues.  For example, coming out of Saving Private Ryan you most likely are having a powerful reaction to the varied messages of the film.  What does that film mean?  That we should avoid war at all costs?  That war brings out the very finest commitments to one's fellow humans all in the midst of carnage?  That those who fought WWII should not be forgotten, and that what they literally did, saved the world, and so they should be honored?  That when you have an enemy prisoner, you should not let them go, for they are likely to return and kill you?  And, if that is the message, how does it apply to our behavior in our present daily lives?  Should eight soldiers have been sent out to save one, when everyone knew that the likely result would be that several of the eight would die in the attempt?  Was the decision to save Private Ryan a FUBAR decision?  Do even FUBAR decisions sometimes result in very positive results?  How does this apply to my personal life?  How or When or Should…….you fill in the questions you might have regarding this movie……..???????


The real question is, how do you engage your own brain in response to these emotions?

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