Changed by Film
Play this epilogue while you read. Allow the music to overwhelm you, to create in you a desire to explore, an energy to live, and the grief only a saxophone can cause.
Start A Fire
The bright lights dim, suddenly the theater becomes silent, and the screen reminds you to please turn off your cell phone. The darkness envelopes the outside world and only the characters on the screen exist. Their world, their lives, their problems. The music draws you in, and the emotional responses of each character holds you there. The wonder, thrill, excitement, grief of each moment keeps you hanging on for more. Torn between predicting what will happen next and simply losing yourself in the moment, you find yourself forgetting anything else exists.
Movies entertain, inspire change, provide release, and reach pieces of us that nothing else can or will. Think back to the scenes, characters, songs, and movies that made you feel something. Painful grief, fear, happiness, energy. Each of us have connected with a character, seeing ourselves in them; who hasn't fallen in love, even for a short time, with a person on screen we hope truly exists; the life we desire seems more possible and more out of reach at the same time. Sometimes we watch because it happened to be on television; many times we forget what we saw the next day. But the truly great experiences come when a movie impacts your thoughts or decision making the next day, week, month, or year.
Bright colors, fashionable outfits, ambitious creatures, catchy tunes, and LA traffic. All in the opening scene. This scene of La La Land pulled me into a world in which everyone danced, only outfits with a single bright color were allowed, traffic stopped the world but no one seemed to mind, and the heat didn't exist. But in one instance, doors slammed, horns honked, and the excitement which connected everyone evaporated.
I could watch La La Land, a musical, without volume, because the colors of each and every outfit speak to me. Bright dresses and unique suits create a feeling of both elegance and freedom; as if I could walk into a professional meeting with perfect confidence, but also run and dance and swim with passion. Each song, though, reaches a different part of me. I want to go on adventure, then stay at home and listen to vinyls for hours. I can't help hoping for love, only to wish I never feel the grief which always seems to follow. Jazz makes me want to dance, and then it makes me want to cry. The same can be said of the love story we watch begin, develop, and....
When I watch this movie, I imagine myself living in the City of Stars, unconcerned with my career, focused only on music, art, and love. I want to feel alive, driving with the top down, jumping from a bridge, and dancing under the moon with a woman who makes me smile. Life seems almost too perfect, yet incomplete without the complications that force us to become something better than ourselves.
500 million friends. 500 million seconds. 500 million dollars. People, time, money; some combination of the three. Our typical thoughts of success revolve around these principles. Our time and how we spend it, the friends we make along the way, and how much money we can spend doing it. Movies like The Social Network, make us feel like maybe we could make the most of all three (especially the cash). A brilliant idea meets an invaluable skill, then immeasurably hard work creates success.
While some movies capture me in a world of art, others tap into my ambition, my source of pride, my desire to prove myself to the world. When I watch movies like this, I imagine what it would be like for the world to know my name, to drive a car with doors that open vertically, and to build a house for each of my parents and grandparents. The recognition, the fame, the money; all generated by my knowledge, skill, and commitment. Maybe it is possible. All of these characters seem like regular people living in the perfect city with the right help and a drive to b the best.
Perhaps it is possible that my intelligence and understanding of the world will come together in a way which allows me to live beyond my wildest dreams. Or maybe I will work for a mid-level company in a small town, and never quite see the world as I want. These movies create both desire and fear. They make it seem possible; but if it is possible and I don't make it, that means it's my fault, right? There is nothing like a movie that makes you start writing, researching, studying to create the life you just saw. If it is possible for them, why not me?
La La Land keeps me smiling, dancing, and dreaming of love; The Social Network drives me to succeed, to create the life I've always dream of, and Dead Poets' Society reminds me that art always has a place in my life. I remember a time when I thought the only important parts of life were sports, business, and family. I had little to no interest in theatre, movies, art, or poetry. I considered them only when my English professor required I provide an analysis.
"Wicked" on Broadway capture me in a way I had never experienced before; it literally took my breath away and my cheeks hurt from smiling for days. Dead Poets' Society continued that evolution in me, instigating a desire to read and understand poetry, to see Shakespeare performed, and to understand what connects with the lives of every individual I meet. During that summer, my worldview began to shift; I saw the world differently and considered methods I could make a real impact.
I studied Walt Whitman because of this movie, and exploring Washington D.C. just changes when you quote "O Captain, My Captain" while taking in the Lincoln Memorial. Each time I watch, I laugh at a new line, hear the name of another poet, and wonder what so many people in my real world are thinking on a daily basis. I am carried into the sky and brought back to earth several different times throughout, and because of the movie, experience those same emotions each time I read a new poem.
I could go on and on about the movies that have changed my life, impacted how I viewed the world, shaped my tastes and ambitions. And so could you. You have been impacted in a unique way by any number of films. When we share with one another how a movie impacted us, we are allowed to share parts of ourselves and our world with another. Sharing emotions, thoughts, and desires in a way which really allows us to connect through that other world. I am changed so often by movies, I want to thank actors and directors and producers. So here is my thanks to each of them, for changing me. I hope you can find a way to thank them as well.