Reel/Real Impact: Theory, Research, Biblio

Most film don’t create new truths or fresh ideas.  Film’s power derives from its ability to pick up, amplify, and spread to the large, mass society current trends  that already exists among select groups of society.

Film not only spreads or distributes ideas, it speeds  popular acceptance of social change.  The speed of diffusion on new ways of thinking and new ways of behavior. (Boggs, 483).

It’s interesting to study which films, and under what circumstances, have raised and/or sustained the level of debate and discourse on any major issue of our time?

Do most films function as superficial mass entertainment, disposable features that we forget as soon as we leave the movie theaters?

Grapes of Wrath:

The Soviet administrators tried to use the film as propaganda against the U.S. Soviet officials showed it as exploitation of migrant workers by capitalist ranch owners.  They aimed to show the evils of capitalism.  But the idea backfired, when the peasants spectators actually showed envy and admiration for the Joads, because they at least owned  their trucks and had the freedom to travel and move around.

Which demonstrate that you could never predict in advance accurately the subjective response of an individual spectator or a group of spectators.


Documentaries, such as Fahrenheit 9/11 affirms the power  of films to spur a larger political, non-cinematic dialogue.

It affirms the notion that movies make meaning beyond box-office grosses.

Select Biblio:

Cantrill, H. Caudet, H and Heroz, H. The Invasion from Mars. Princeton University Pres, 1940. Reprinted by Harper.

Domino, George. “Impact of the film, ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ on Attitudes toward Mental Illness. Pyschological Reports 53 (August 1983): 179-182.

Holaday, Perry W and George D. Stoddard. Getting Ideas from the Movies. N.Y. Macmillan, 1933.

Madsen, Roy. The Impact of Film.

Rosen, Irwin. “The Effects of the Motion Picture Gentleman’s Agreement on Attitudes Toward Jews.” Journal of Psychology 26 (1948): 525-536.

Roth, Lewis and Frank N. Traper. “Public Opinion and Crossfire.” Journal of Educational Psychology 21 (1948): 345-368.