Our Movie Made Children

By Henry James Forman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
HORROR AND FRIGHT PICTURES

How intense may be the emotion bottled up in children before the screen and seeking an outlet is illustrated by many cases cited by Professor Herbert Blumer of the University of Chicago. Chiefly, he finds, it is in scenes of suspense and horror that the intensity of emotion and anguish, when it comes to the surface, shows itself in the clutching of seats, wringing of caps and handkerchiefs, biting of lips and fingernails and the utterance of groans. It is where the child can see no hope of escape from danger for his favorites that agony consumes and terror ravages his nerves.

"Children," suggests Professor Blumer, "have been subjected to needless torture by the failure to recognize this simple point in constructing the plots and scenes of thrillers." A scenario writer, of course, would have a very definite retort to this suggestion. But Professor Blumer is thinking in terms of children rather than in that of scenario technique.

The whole problem of terror and excruciating elements in pictures has been conspicuously ignored by producers and censors alike. That this is true, we can hardly fail to see from some of the evidence presented in this chapter. Even in the comparatively innocuous films used in the Ruckmick-Dysinger experiments, the intensity of

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