It feels like it happens overnight.
You fall asleep with a yard of rich green grass and warm winds curling over the walls of your house. The next morning, the air bites like a wolf and the lawn lawn is frosted white. Autumn sneaks up on us. Sometimes it's frightening because we don't expect it, but the changes that come are worth the changes in mood. Nobody would trade pumpkin spice lattes and falling leaves for the sticky heat of summer. Likewise, nobody would trade the way movies transform into something new when the seasons change. There are three ways — internal and external — films use the Autumn season to create a unique movie-going experience.
Blooming Fast, Dying Slow
Movies manipulate our emotions in a thousand creative ways. One of the most powerful factors in a film is environment. The setting isn't always in the front of our minds, but it probes the parts of our subconscious that determine our mood. Settings create an emotional aesthetic, of sorts. Autumn is a powerful season, and when movies pair the feelings of a story with the feeling of a time, the entire experience levels up.
Take the movie October Sky. It's an unassuming story centered around a group of West Virginia boys with dreams of the stars. As they fight the inevitable future the town has planned for them (life in the mines), they make model rockets and discover the sky isn't as unreachable as it seems. October Sky is, of course, set at the beginning of fall. The changing environment give the film a dark, somber tone. Wind ripples in jackets, gray skies slide over the hills, and the trees blossom into a million colors. Without autumn's murk and autumn's brightness, October Sky wouldn't be the same inspiring story.
If You Love Me Let Me Go
Conceptually, autumn is a season of change. The free time and close friends of summer have gone away, and even though the weather is nice and the lattes are dangerously sweeter, fall is considered the most bittersweet time of year. Films take the broad feeling of change and weave it into stories set in many different times of the year, but those themes work best when experienced in autumn.
If you're like me, you didn't expect Stand By Me to be one of the funniest, saddest, and deeply moving stories about children ever put to screen. It stings with every re-watch. Regardless of emotional impact, however, the themes of the story are parallel with the aesthetic of autumn. Stand By Me focuses on a grieving child trying to put his life back together. He surrounds himself with colorful of friends as he fights to survive in this mysterious world. The story is much more powerful when everything around you is changing.
Take Your Time
Here is an important fact: time is uniform, but perception is not. 30 minutes spent in the blistering summer sun is the exact same as 30 minutes spent in the autumn breeze, but discomfort stretches short minutes into hours. When our environment is comfortable, we are content, and it's easier to enjoy the world around us. Movies take advantage of the fall weather to make quieter films feel more exciting.
Oscar season reaches its peak in the autumn and winter months. Movies like Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies are built around long stretches of dialogue, well-thought silences, and subtle cinematography. They're stripped-down films that often require more attention from the audience. Why do they work so well in autumn? The weather and the mood of the season isn't a distraction, so it's easier to relax and enjoy the slower pace. Without the content feeling of autumn in our veins, Oscar season wouldn't be as prolific.
Wind, Trees, Popcorn
When autumn first arrives, the change is jarring. Often it's sad. Often it's wonderful. And all the time, the season plays an important role in how we watch movies. Autumn settings give films a somber, reflective mood. Emotional themes line up with the broad changes of fall and strike harder. Even the silences are more enjoyable, which allows quieter films to thrive. Movies are made to be watched at any time, but when the leaves turn colors and the grass gets brittle, everything hurts a little more, and everything is a little sweeter.
And for a completely different type of fall, check out the video below:
What is your favorite "seasonal" movie?