How Movies Move Us

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Watching movies

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Movies may not be real — but in a lot of ways, they’re real to us. Great films help us understand the world, history, and one another. They have the ability to reach a level of truth that we feel in our bones.
When a great actor delivers a line — we believe them. When a beloved character dies, we mourn them. When danger approaches, our hair stands on end.
What creates these strong reactions — and makes the illusion so compelling?
On this episode, we look to science to explain how movie magic works in our brains and plays out in our emotions. We hear stories about the creation of movie sounds, method acting for dogs, whether you can really trust an actor, and how we draw the line between onscreen romance, and real-life love.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Reporter Ari Saperstein takes us inside the world of Foley artists, who recreate everyday sounds for movies, from walking to eating to sneezing.
  • Alan Yu reports on the obsession with on-screen couples, and explores whether acting in love can lead to real romance.
  • For a lot of actors, embodying someone else can take a toll on your psyche. Barton Goldsmith talks about his work as an on-set film therapist, and how it can lead to a more productive movie making experience.
  • We talk with Cornell psychology professor James Cutting about how and why films capture our attention.

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