Movie or a Film? A divide in the artistic world of cinema.

The term movie is not really a synonym for film, it’s a term for defining objects that move. Now if we go back to the era of Nickelodeon theatres then we’d see a striking difference. A “movie” is of American origin meaning simple presentation of moving objects. But when did it become so that it became a synonym for motion pictures?

Let’s see certain facts shall we, oh please do know that there’s some philosophical as well as linguistic factors so please be patient.

A film can be commercial, but it has a larger purpose than just making money. A movie is a commercialized product created for mass consumption. Its sole purpose is profit.

A film is characterized by the personalities, beliefs, and artistic ambition of the people making it. A movie is characterized by a string of decisions that will appeal to the target audience.

A film is far more concerned with aesthetics, with how movement, light, and sound will emotionally engage and intellectually stimulate the audience. A movie is more concerned with plot and easy answers.

A film attempts to convey or explore something larger than itself. A movie is about giving the audience exactly what they want.

When two words with the same meaning are used differently, the difference is usually due to changes in a language or due to demographics; this is true for ‘film’ and ‘movie’ as well. And because of the same meaning but nuanced usage, the two terms developed connotations and attitudes towards the words and the people who use them. More about these two words and their differences are discussed in the succeeding sections.

A film is a motion picture, and is an older term for it. Aside from its technical definition, a motion picture is a medium used to express stories, ideas and even feelings. As a medium for expression, it has evolved its own form of art called cinematography. Film is also the various plastic materials, such as celluloid film, that serve as media where these motion pictures are imprinted, as opposed to the more modern digital media.

Specific genres also use the term strictly, as in a documentary or a biography. Genres with a small audience or has a cult following also use the word film, such as an independent film. For other genres, being categorized as a film gives the motion picture an air of being well-produced and artistic. As a vehicle for ideas, films are made with a goal in mind and the result is usually educational, informative, or thought provoking. This usage of the word often gives films the connotation of artistry and formality but also a negative attitude of pretentiousness towards how the word is used in this sense.

Film is used more often used by those who work in the industry, people who work closely with the industry and by non-English speaking European countries. Movies are used more often by consumers, Americans, and non-native English speakers.

Documentaries, biographies and motion pictures with cult followings such as indie films are often classified as films. Motion pictures that get pejorative monikers such as chick flicks and scream fests are often classified as movies

Usage of the word film has an artistic but pretentious connotation while usage of the term movie has a commercialized and crass connotation.

film a cinematographic representation of a story, drama, episode, event, etc.; a cinema performance; the cinema, the pictures, the movies.motion picture, a ‘moving picture’; a cinema film.

So basically it’s more about the usage of the term. How does one use it then? Film history is full of these little bursts of, ‘Oh there’s a huge paradigm shift!’ and then it kind of recedes back to what filmmaking is at its core—storytelling.

 A film attempts to convey or explore something larger than itself. A movie is about giving the audience exactly what they want. A film forces the audience to grow in some way, to leave the theater slightly better humans than when they came in. A movie leaves the audience happy, satisfied, but ultimately unchanged

A film is an artistic attempt to explore a subject or topic that usually reaches far beyond itself. So, when we watch something on our television or at the cinema, what we’re seeing is a series of pictures that have been combined together at high speed and placed onto a physical piece of film. This gives the illusion of “motion”.

As you can see, when we say “film,” we’re describing a tool as opposed to a piece of entertainment or genre.Though the two words absolutely can and do get used as part of very similar sentences, in summary, their intended use and how their intended use is supposed to change your outlook on a motion picture are very different. 

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