The Theory of Second Viewing

Posted on January 7, 2010. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Sounds clever doesn’t it? Don’t worry, it’s not.

Basically, I am of the belief that you cannot form a proper opinion about a movie until you’ve seen it twice.  Case in point: if you look back you’ll see that when I watched Iron Man for the first time I said that I liked it but probably wouldn’t put it on the movies to see before you die list, and didn’t rate it too highly amongst the other Marvel films.  However, now I’ve watched it again (a couple of times) I’ve pretty much completely changed my mind! Definitely a firm favourite for me now and making it’s way onto the list.  There’s also been films I wasn’t too sure about first time around but having seen them again I think I misjudged them. Sin City springs to mind. Twelve Monkeys takes most people a couple of goes too, but that’s mainly to get your head round it.

I think part of it is that the first time you see a movie you’re trying to keep up with the plot and the characters and so you can miss little things like throw away one liners or cool set design that you’ll pick up second time around.  Of course some times though, you’ve got to trust your instincts.  You will have to pay me a whole lot of money to make me sit through the  Mamma Mia or Lost In Translation again, while at the same time it didn’t take me more than one viewing to realise that Lord of the Rings was a brilliant film.

More often than not I find that films I thought were only OK to begin with get better the more you watch them, but things can go the other way too.  The sequels to The Matrix and the Pirates follow ups both came out in a wave of PR and special effects that had you going in the cinema, but the plot holes get wider once you get the DVD back to your sofa. Not that I dislike any of those films, just perhaps not as into them as I was the first time.  I’ve already written about how hype can affect your opinion of a movie with The Dark Knight, and from what I hear of Avatar so far, it seems like that will be another one which loses some of the magic once it’s out of the cinema, especially since so much stock is tied up in the effects.

There’s more than a few places on this blog where I’ve written I need to see a movie again before completely making my mind up (The Eternal Sunshine debate rages on).  It’s not so much for the films you either love or hate, it’s the ones where at the end you can’t quite decide how much you like it.  My advice is watch it again.  You’ll probably find it’s better than you think.

…unless it’s Mamma Mia 😛

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26 Responses to “The Theory of Second Viewing”

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Great post!!!

I’ve tried preaching this sort of patience for a long time now, so much so that there are bloggers out there who know me as “That Watch It Again Guy”.

While I’m a believer of the initial reaction, I think that movies can fall victim of hype more than actually being bad movies. These are usually the ones I suggest people give some breathing room to and come back to.

I’m all for second chances and going back to view something when all the fuss has died down

i.e. I really liked American Beauty when I first saw it but viewing it again at a later date I found the whole thing unbearably smug.

I have no intention of seeing Mamma Mia for a first time so no hope for a second time. I have seen Lost In Translation in translation many times and it just keeps getting better. You should give it a second chance. As for the first of the Pirates sequels I don’t think I have the time to watch it again, as I remember it, it was about 37 hours long. It certainly felt that way.

Do you ever listen to Mark Kermode on the radio? He has a similar idea about watching a film for a second time.

MadHatter: Good to know I have a kindred spirit.

You’re both right about letting the hype die down. I reckon it’s got a lot to do with why a lot of people say they hate Titanic yet it was ridiculously popular at the time!

Andy: Maybe I should give Lost in Translation a second chance, but all I remember is utter boredom and total disappointment. Sometimes the second time just confirms your first fears. I tried so hard to like Gladiator but in the end it’s just too long and slow.

Pirates is long, but it’s also good. It’s just obvioulsy drawn out to make two movies wher eone would have done. It’s an unfortunately common problem once studios realise they can make money out of a franchise.

No I haven’t, I’ll try and check it out

Good post! You make some very good points Katie that some movies do often need a second viewing to pick more things up from it, while some you just cannot give another chance. I feel the same way about Lost in Translation and have always thought about a second viewing but I already know I didn’t like the end, haha.

pirates of the caribbean 3 was on tv on boxing day.
seriously, every time i turned on the tv it was still on. has it finished yet? utter crap. it was crap when i went to see it, and im sure if i watched it all again it would be utter crap now.
youre right though katie about the second watch thing, have lost count of the number of films i hated after first viewing that i enjoyed the second…
Vanilla Sky, Shaun of the Dead, War of the Worlds
it must be something about the excitement of going to see it in a big screen (and paying money) – i find when things are on tv they seem to be better.
think ill wait for Avatar to come on tv…
will never watch Lost in Translation again though. some movies just dont deserve a second chance…

Ross! You’ve made me so happy by proving I’m not the only person in the world who thinks Lost In Translation is complete crap.
Caz: don’t watch it again. It wont get better, it’s beyond help.

I’d go a bit easier on pirates, but then I’m biased by the prescence of Johnny Depp. It is one long film.

Interesting that you;d wait for Avatar. Seems to me its only worth seeing on the big screen.

You have to factor in that Ross is usually wrong so that proves how great it is!

The other day, someone actually said this to me: “Why do you watch a movie more than once? That’s just stupid.” That I resisted slapping her required supreme, Zen-like patience on my part. It also convinced me how right the see-it-twice philosophy is, particularly if you H-A-T-E something the first time. Since I also believe movies have different meanings at different points in our lives (just like books or music or artwork), it makes sense that you should given something you didn’t like another go. Likewise, it’s logical to see something you loved again to see what else you find to enjoy about it. Any great work of art stands the test of time in that way, I believe, because it reveals something new to you every time you look.

Andy: I think you’ll find me and Ross tend to agree, making you outvoted. even moreso when we add Caz. So there.

M.Carter: Amazing restraint. Although I have said similar things about reading books so I guess it depends how much you’re into it. You’re right about different meanings at different times. It’s a bti like music, there’s songs I would have never gotten into had they not rminded me of a great night out or something, and now they’re in my favourites.

I absolutely agree. Watching a movie for a second time can totally change your mind. Although sometimes I like movies less after the second time.

Hmmm, this post make me ponder if I had changed my mind about a movie after a second viewing. I’m sure I had, I just can’t think of it right now. But I remember liking Titanic when it first came out but now I don’t think I can bear watching the entire thing again! I’m in Fandango’s camp regarding Lost in Translation, but no worries, I’m not gonna convince you to like it. But Gladiator on the other hand… [sigh] how could you not like good ‘ol Maximus??? 😦

I really want to like Gladiator! I think the last half hour is really brilliant but the rest of the movie is just so dull-Sorry!

We have nominated you for an award Katie, go to our site to check the details

This is an excellent post and actually I just mentioned the same idea in my Top Ten Worst of 2009 because it occurred to me that some movies I really loved or hated more after a few viewings. The only way I’ve resolved this with theatre viewings is by waiting a few days for my adoration or dislike to simmer, with the hopes that the experience isn’t overly influenced. Beyond that it’s difficult to be objective anyway. You inspired me to write about movies that have changed for me! Thanks Katie!

American Beauty is one that gets better for me every time I watch it actually.

Titanic is one I think people forgot was actually a decent movie. I think if they went back and watched it they might enjoy the story more.

Knowing was one I thought was okay and watched again and realized was pretty terrible. LOL

Aaw Heather I’m glad I got you thinking! I haven’t yet seen American Beauty, it’s on the list. And you’re right about Titanic, I saw it really late after all the hype died down so I wasn’t as influenced by that. And I thought it was good. But then…I’ve only seen it once… 😉

I felt the same way about “Lost in Translation” until I saw it for the second time. One of the best of the decade.

I’m not sure I could put myself through Lost In Translation twice. If I do, this blog will be the first to hear about it.

I can’t agree with you more on the importance of a 2nd viewing. I think that’s why I’m waiting to see Avatar again before ripping it. This is especially important with films I am reeeeeally excited to see as they never live up to my self-imposed hype. The Dark Knight is a great example. I left the theater kind of bummed… almost feeling a little like Spiderman 3, like there was too many villains and too much story… but after a repeat viewing I realized what a well composed story it was. Great post!!!

Funnily enough I actually found my review of The Dark KNight went down on the second viewing, because the hype had died down

https://storiesthatreallymattered.wordpress.com/2009/03/07/great-expectations/

Interesting DARK KNIGHT article, though that’s quickly become a movie I can quote from repeated viewings (it’s on my iPod).

Seeing something after the hype CAN really alter our reaction, but I hope you’ll keep faith where the next Batman movie is concerned. Ledger may be gon, but Christopher Nolan is still at the steering wheel, and after the two Batman movies he’s given us, I have complete faith in his vision…Joker or no Joker.

my initial review of The Dark Knight written upon release…

http://cinemascream.wordpress.com/2008/07/27/cinema-review-the-dark-knight/

my later thoughts based on a recent viewing…

http://cinemascream.wordpress.com/2009/12/27/thedarkknight/

love the theory of second viewing

I have only seen it twice, I’m waiting to see it again until I can convince my sister to watch it with me. She’s been turned off by the hype.
This is the only one of the Nolan Batman’s I’ve seen, and despite being a Bale fan I didn’t find him that interesting inthis film because the show was completely stolen by Ledger. Because of that I’m not too desperate to see then next one (or the previous) although I’m sure I’ll be proved wrong when I eventually do see them.

Woah – I must call “Malarky” here. You haven’t seen BEGINS? You have to check it out. Much of the details that made TDK work so well are on display in BEGINS…and it’s the first time Batman’s origin story has ever been told in film or TV.

Heath or no Heath – It’s a great flick.

Give it a look, and let us all know what you think.

Yes… Begins might be the greatest Batman movie.


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