Movies

This is probably hard for people who live in New York (or, to some extent, the United States) to understand, but for me, getting to New York was like stepping into a movie.

In Brazil, your whole knowledge about the United States comes from Hollywood movies. The cultural values in Brazil are just similar enough to those from the States for everyone to understand and identify with what’s happening on the screen, but different enough for it to still feel very foreign, mysterious, attractive. The North-American movie industry was especially efficient in disseminating a desire for the American way of life around the world.

This is, of course, especially true of New York. After seeing so many of the city landmarks in movies – Home Alone was a staple of our television, too, among many others – it’s surreal to be transported into the city you’ve seen for decades but not really known. It’s like being in a movie set; you’re constantly waiting for the cameras to stop filming and for everyone to wrap up for the day and go home, except it never happens.

But then the biggest surprise is not with what you had seen before, but with what you haven’t. Over time, the identity of the city transforms; it’s not about Times Square anymore (who even goes to Times Square in their sane mind?); it’s not about Times Square, or Battery Park, or Central Park either. Those are important facets of the city, of course, but they only happen to be what the movies have decided to exploit for one reason or another. To the regular New Yorker, the city is a lot more: it’s Union Square, Washington Square, Prospect Park, McCarren Park, Greenwich Village, Houston Street, or a million other points of interest. Each of these areas have their own identity, their own feeling, and it’s easy to understand why they don’t show up in movies as much as they should. In a movie, it’s easier to impress the audience by showing a famous or visually impressive point of interest. But New York is so much more – it’s a place to feel. That doesn’t translate very well to the screen, no matter the resolution. All the better, however, for visitors of the city: you cannot be spoiled by thinking you know the city, no matter how many episodes of Sex And The City you have watched.

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