Why do most films contain some sort of violence and why do we like it so much?
Don't know about you, but when I find myself making a choice between a non vilent and a violent film, I oftenly go for the latter.
Let aside my personal taste in film, violence triggers our brain regardless of our preferences. In fact, next time you’re watching the film of your preference (Romantic, Animated, Comedy etc) notice carefully and you will realize that it most certainly contains some form of violence and your brain "likes" that.
Lets take Whiplash for example. A film about a promising young drummer who enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student's potential. There is a high contrast between the soft, young protagonist and his bold, violent instructor. Without that contrast, we the audience would not feel the struggle and pain the main character went through to succeed. Miles (the protagonist) is threatened by his music instructor, has chairs thrown at him, he is psychologically abused, he is forced to play until his hands bleed and so on. That violence enhances the audience experience and connection with the character.
HOW IT WORKS
Before we move forward to explain why Filmmakers use violence as a tool, we'll talk about how your brain reacts to it.
When you watch a film, your brain subconsciously gets immersed into the world of the film you’re watching at. You identify with and become the character/s of the story. Therefore if anything happens to them on screen, your brain will react as if the same thing happened to you too. In a sense, you become the character or you identify as his or her friend. That's why you cry when Jack dies in Titanic or when the couple at your favorite Rom com separates or you have a burst of joy when Carl (from the animated film Up!) lands that house next tothe waterfall.
REALISTIC AND EXAGERATTED
There is realistic and exaggerated violence. A type of realistic violence would be "Seven" by David Fincher while an exaggerated type of violence would be any Quentin Tarantino movie.
No matter the type, violence in film has a common purpose. Entertain.
In thrillers, when violence happens someone is in danger. Usually the protagonist. By knowing the protagonist is in danger suspense is created. In Drama violence can mean one more obstacle in the main characters life or objective. Like a nearly fatal car crash, or a kidnapping. In comedy violence is used to create laughter with the use of exaggerated movements and sound effects. Usually when brutality is used that way, it becomes clear by the creator that nothing depicted could actually happen in real life.
FILMS DON'T BITE
Knowing the violence in films can't hurt you or any of the people that took part in it does not provoke negative emotions for allowing yourself to watch gruesome images. Some people watch violent films because they seek the suspense that they can't have in their own lives. Some others watch to fulfill their worst and wildest imaginations, and some watch to relate with their own experiences.
NOTICE: Although it is mostly harmless to watch violent movies -if you are a sane person-. Studies have shown that people who constantly bombard their brain with such gruesome content tend to perceive the world as a more violent and dangerous place. So next time you pop another thriller or horror movie don't forget to double check under the bed before you go to sleep.
The reality of the situation is that violence has always existed in art. From medieval paintings, books and photography. Thus, it is not surprising that film took the same direction. Some may say it is in the human DNA to be intrigued by violence some others may deny that hypothesis.