Are films primarily art or entertainment? (Friday Question Fun)

Friday Question Fun

First off, I’d really like to apologize for falling so far behind here. My last post was exactly a week ago with another Friday Question Fun entry. I have been oddly busy at work and haven’t really had time for the site or, to be honest, movie watching in general. I STILL need to have my stats wrap-ups for 2012 and I’m just embarrassed I haven’t done it at this point. I wish things were different, but they look to stay this way for a little bit.

As for this week’s question…

Are films primarily art or entertainment?

To me, films will always be entertainment but I am also entertained by movies that most would consider artsy so my answer is a bit skewed. Then again, I would argue that film in general is an art form and the entertainment comes from the appreciation of the art. I think the key difference comes from movies that entertain because they are a distraction, they might be funny or action-packed with little to no plot versus a film that focuses on visuals and has little story. I like to think I’m open to all films but there are many more days when I would rather watch a pretentious foreign film rather than a shoot-em-up action flick.

What about you?

40 responses to “Are films primarily art or entertainment? (Friday Question Fun)

  1. Of course it’s different for each film you go to see, but as far as why I love film it would have to be because of entertainment value. I can appreciate art, but when it comes down to it I’d so much rather see a movie like The Avengers than a movie like The Master

  2. I guess it depends who is watching, even the same movie can be seen as both by different viewers, you can see a deeper layer in anything even if it’s not there. It’s something like what you find is what u are looking for. As for me if a movie makes you think it is art.

  3. I like to think that films are indeed art but when allegory, metaphor and even sometimes allusion steps in it causes us to think about headier things and what we perceive as entertainment. Film, indeed is both. I can watch Die Hard and still wax philosophic. When I watch, say, La Strada it can just be a road trip flick. That’s how my funky brain works sometimes 🙂 I do like what Underrated Movies said though..a 3rd choice! Great post, Andy. You made my neurons fire up today.

  4. I think I mostly agree with you – I tend to like films that my non-film buff friends consider artsy (or pretentious) by filmmakers like Charlie Kaufman, Wes Anderson, David Lynch, etc. But I’m also OK with spending two hours watching a movie that’s entertaining but ultimately forgettable. I think the problem for me is that a lot of those movies that go for entertainment value alone forget to be entertaining. I don’t think anyone’s going to make a serious argument that Adam Sandler’s recent movies are in any way artistic, but they’re also not even remotely funny. Then again, I don’t think I’d be interested in a film that tried to be pure art and failed to have any entertainment value whatsoever, though I’m struggling to think of an example. Long story short, I think artistic films are usually entertaining!

    • Haha I like the long story version too

      One of the first films I thought of when I was thinking of films trying to be artistic was Antichrist and I think that film largely fails to entertain by any means other than from an artistic level. So there are definitely exceptions to everything.

  5. I think there is an artistic value to every performance medium. We can say that comedy or action is less artistic, but we look back and think of Keaton or Chaplin as artistic, when they were really there (at the time) to entertain. What’s that old line? Comedy equals pain plus time? Some variation of that seems to work when we talk about art as well.

    But this is a great question, and it gets to the heart of the reason I developed the ranking system for my site. I like to be able to separate a subject’s “Film” quality (its artistic aspects) from its “Movie” quality (pure entertainment). Sometimes those two converge at the top of the curve.

    And when they do? That is, for me, a definition of a classic.

  6. Interesting question. They can be both really. What is art? I think everything can be considered art, depending on how you personally define it. I also believe that all films are automatically entertainment, because that is their purpose, namely to entertain their target audience. Personally, I would call it entertainment if the film is a regular to good production. If it is a legendary production which made me think (and any film can basically to do this), I would call it art, giving some kind of higher value to the work.

  7. “I would argue that film in general is an art form and the entertainment comes from the appreciation of the art”. Nicely put.

    Yeah, I think film is a wonderful combination of art and entertainment.

  8. I think it would depend on the director, or maybe a movie’s outcome. Some movies tend to tread on either side, while some tend to ride somewhere in the middle. Although I think it might boil down to point of view to be honest.

  9. For me, films aren’t primarily anything. It’s a medium – pure and simple. Sure, it’s a medium I love, but it’s a medium nonetheless. 🙂

  10. I wouldn’t say they can be both, I’d say they ARE both. Every film is a piece of art and a piece of entertainment. Obviously some films are more artistic or more entertaining than others but I’d say in some way all films fall into both categories. Well, virtually all films. You always get the ones that are just to shock or educate, which might not be to entertain as such but they are still a form of art as they are still creative products from someone’s mind. Of course, the level of art and entertainment is subjective and arguable. Norbit, for example 🙂

  11. Perhaps they are conceptualised differently, but to me films should be art. And that’s how I evaluate them. This pretty much means anyone who tells me a film should be taken for what it is: cheesy fun, is going to have a hard time talking to me.


  12. For me film is visual storytelling. They are art when the visuals are more prominent than the story (Un Chien Andalou) and they are entertainment when the story is more prominent than the visuals (any summer popcorn flick). Or propaganda if it’s that kind of story. Story in this case being not only plot but themes, characterization, message, etc. Of course visuals and story go hand in hand, and an excellent film succeeds at both – and becomes both art and entertainment.

  13. Film is an art form, I think. And it’s not so much about entertaining but eliciting an emotional response, one way or the other.

    Tree Of Life is a good example you use… I enjoyed the film but I can’t honestly say I was ‘entertained’… yet in general terms I must have been!

    It’s another bloody good question.

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