Why We Identify With Everyone In 'Moonlight'

Brody Moonlight

The unique story can still reach everyone.

While some may be tempted to say that Moonlight’s draw is its intense humanism and its treatment of experiential specificity (and hey, they wouldn’t be wrong), there’s even more film theory that tackles why the film’s story speaks to those of us that could never have lived it.

Theorist Vivian Sobchack had quite a few ideas about how we identified with characters on film, crafting some dense phenomenological theories about the subject that are a bit difficult to parse without plain language and a killer case study. Thankfully, editor David Sobolak and director Barry Jenkins give us both.

Deconstructing Moonlight in his video, Sobolak looks at the nuances of this film experience theory and figures out how images and sounds create a human that isn’t us and yet is created by us. If we made something, using our minds to fill in the natural gaps left by films, then we must understand it at some level. Learning film theory has never been sexier.

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).