Joy is, perhaps, an underestimated emotion. We expect big emotions these days; it’s all love or hate, excitement or boredom, for or against. Joy is too simple it would seem, too fleeting, too vanilla. But when we feel it, boy, do we know. Joy is a warm glow, a secret smile, a perfect memory, and a thing to treasure. It’s not small at all. It’s the moment when we feel most human — and most connected to others. It’s not brash, it’s beautiful.
Joy is something cinema does extraordinarily well. Film as an art form celebrates the spectacular but its most powerful moments are very often in the pauses in-between — when the action stops and our emotions are released. It’s Jack Nicolson’s grin and Ryan Reynold’s smile. It’s ‘Avengers Assemble!’ and E.T. on a bike. Moments like these can feel insignificant until you realize these are the scenes you remember longest because they bring the most joy.
So let’s take a pause and celebrate the movie moments when the audience catches its collective breath. Let’s think of Spiderman’s upside-down kiss, Seb and Mya parting in La La Land, the scene by the lake in The Banshees of Inishherin. These moments of joy are also moments of clarity, a pivot where a plot line suddenly makes sense or a character reveals their motivation. Miss them, miss their subtlety, and you may miss the entire point of the movie.
So, while we rightly praise the explosive spectacles that modern RGB pure laser projection and sound allow, the clarity and color fidelity they bring to quieter moments are just as important. Used together, advanced technology gives directors the confidence to use extreme close-ups and whispered dialogue, knowing that every nuance they capture will reproduce faithfully on-screen.
Intimate moments of emotional clarity
It’s during these moments that the connection between actor and audience is total. This is when we feel actors’ emotions most completely, see their humanity most clearly, feel their joy most intensely, and when the quality of sound and projection must match their acting skills.
Will the audience notice that technology? We absolutely hope not. In these flashes of clarity, nothing should come between actor and audience, least of all tech. It’s why color fidelity and resolution and all those other things matter, because each advance we make closes the gap between the emotions on-screen and those in the auditorium. It’s why audiences let out collective gasps or murmurs of approval — because they’re not a mere audience anymore, the tech and the art of cinema have taken them to a place of pure joy.