Face Time

Siu-Lan TanWe love faces; our lives depend on it from an early age. And a close-up on a face is one of the most notable differences between the experience of a movie and the experience of live theater. When we choose to see a film instead of a play it may be, in part, because were drawn to the human face. In her latest installment of her Psychology Today blog (What Shapes Film?) Associate Professor of Psychology Siu-Lan Tan explores what attracts us to cinematic face time. Her article is aptly titled “3 Reasons Why We’re Drawn to Faces in Film.” Maybe it should be four reasons, because music plays a big role as well. It’s a fascinating read, and Tan demonstrates her points with faces from some pretty famous films, including Amelie, It’s a Wonderful Life, Saving Private Ryan, and Toy Story 2, among others. Of particular interest is how facial close-ups make us, the audience, both mirror and blank-canvas-and-painter, depending on a face’s intensity or nuance, respectively.