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Study: When Movies Become Friends




“Amélie”, “Notting Hill” and “Pretty Woman”: A study examined how the perfect feel-good film is made

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September 10, 2021, 5:41 p.m.




Berlin | From a sober perspective, some of the pranks that Parisian Amélie plays on her fellow human beings borders on stalking. And yet you leave the comedy “The fabulous world of Amélie” with a big smile on your face. The 2001 French film fairy tale is a feel-good film par excellence.

“Feelgoodmovie”, in German “feel-good film”, is a dazzling category that, according to a study by the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, appears to be primarily defined by three properties: A feelgood film creates a good mood, it finds a devoted one for decades Audience – and he is touched with the tip of the fingers by the film critics. The study examined for the first time which films are considered to be feel-good films from the viewer’s point of view and why.

According to the head of the study, Keyvan Sarkosh, they cannot be assigned to any specific genre, although very often, like the long-running hit “Pretty Woman”, they are romantic comedies. A feel-good film needs a believable dramatic component, i.e. a rousing composition of major and minor.

Light and humorous

In addition to the search for true love, it is often about “characters who are not on the sunny side of life, such as slightly nerdy underdogs”. In the fight against adversity, however, they find their place in society. Light and humorous An important element of feel-good films, says Sarkosh, is also an often fairytale-like lightness – and above all humor. These patterns apply across all ages and genders, says the study, in which 450 people from German-speaking countries aged 25 and over took part. In written feedback, they emphasized that they found their favorite films to be very well crafted and, although sentimental, not to be cheesy.

Nevertheless, there were big differences: While almost everyone likes “Amélie” and “Really Love”, men also preferred comedies like “Little Miss Sunshine”, “The Big Lebowski” or “And Groundhog Day”, while women prefer films like “ Chocolate for Breakfast ”,“ Notting Hill ”and“ Dirty Dancing ”. At home, well-being films are watched specifically to reduce stress.

While feel-good films are often popular for years, they are often judged negatively by film reviews. This is also due to the fact that, as a critic, you “automatically develop a kind of hard-nosedness”, says Felicitas Kleiner, editor of the Catholic “Film Service”. As a frequent viewer, one is exposed to recurring dramaturgical and cinematic means with which filmmakers play on the emotional keyboard. “Then you start to be more aware of these remedies as such and to get bored faster,” says Kleiner. The effect is dull. Original impulses that go beyond genre patterns, on the other hand, would be welcomed by the critics, for example in the road movie “Little Miss Sunshine”. Klein’s personal feel-good favorite is the science fiction comedy “Back to the Future” by Steven Spielberg.

Gisela Meuser, who oversaw films with her PR agency “Filmpresse Meuser” for many years, defines a successful feel-good film as a film that “treats important issues with ease” and mentions the Oscar winner “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” as an example. She noticed that film journalists “emotionally go along” during the presentation of certain films, but in the end still wrote negatively about them.

Hardly any German productions

Ursula Simgen-Buch, who runs a arthouse cinema in the Palatinate, is also a frequent viewer. When planning the program, she orients herself on subjective preferences – intelligent films like her feel-good favorite “Saving Mr. Banks” – and on visitor numbers and lists that have already been recorded. But even she still has aha-moments, for example with “Monsieur Claude and his daughters” – a comedy that she ordered unseen in view of the public praise and “almost sank between her seats in shame” when she saw it. The multicultural joke, which she and many colleagues found “just plain silly”, became one of the biggest hits with visitors.

The feel-good films mentioned in the study are almost exclusively of British, American or French origin. German films only appear sporadically.


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