Monday, July 25, 2011

Because our dreams are destroying us

I love films and novels. I love the way someone can tell a story and enable you to see things differently - to step into a semi-reality to see where dreams and desires lead. This could be a self-loving escapism (and may often be that) but its equally capable of enriching life, casting fresh light upon my questions and putting beauty into the monotony of life. Pointers to what life could be...

We watched three films recently.

The Adjustment Bureau follows the life of David Norris, a remarkable young politician faced with a Presidential future and the opportunities of true love. He is a man with a void in his heart, can he have the politics and love, or if he finds satisfaction in one will it ruin him in the other... and which would be more significant.

The DVD box says it's Bourne meets Inception. It's a bit sci-fi (based on a Philip K. Dick short) which reminded me of Vanilla Sky / Open your eyes at times and it stars Matt Damon, but really it's a story about love and the pursuit of desire.

It'd tempting with this film to ask if the Adjustment Bureau officers are a picture of a god who can adjust our lives... seems to me that the film isn't really about that, but more whether we're free people - are we driven by rational choices our bound to our hearts desires?

And what if "I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy..."?

The Lovely Bones is based on the novel of the same name. The novel is brilliant, and, for me, Peter Jackson's film didn't quite match it though the cinematography was beautiful and I can't imagine it having done any better. The descriptive power of written fiction doesn't always translate, a picture might tell a thousand words, but sometimes a thousand words are needed. Fourteen year old Susie Salmon is murdered and we see how this effects her family and friends, while the killer lurks nearby. Her opportunities to live are taken and it's not just her life that is taken.

Saoirse Ronan's portrayal of innocence is as fascinating as Stanley Tucci's creepy George Harvey (reminiscent of Robin Williams in One Hour Photo). Our stories have heroes and villains, battling against one another as we yearn for a happy ending. We have dark stories in this dark world but we long for comedy.

Black Swan is a weird film. Not everyone would 'enjoy' this film - you need to be able to cope with some strong content and some strangeness - but if you can it's brilliant.
Darren Aronofsky makes odd and harrowing films (his previous was The Wrestler). Nina is a pure dancer, living with her mother amongst her cuddly toys. Though an adult she's still a child. And then she's pushed to find a darkside, to achieve dancing perfection by not just being pure but being passionate. The film explores the way she pursues this - driven into herself, and pushed along by those around her.

Tony Watkins' review cites Tim Keller: "So many sacrifice everything to the god of success. In ancient times, idol deities were bloodthirsty and hard to appease. They still are." - an observation that casts light on the story of David Norris and Nina Sayers, of those left behind by Susie Salmon.

There is a numbness to life and trying to break out of it ourselves, to feel something. Our inconsolable longing has the potential to break and even destroy us, yet we dream of life beyond the life we're used to. We all make our choices. Perhaps you could be a CEO but you might favour your family over endless hours. Footballer Oliver Gill was Manchester United's reserve player of the year but he's abandoned that to study at Durham University. Sometimes our choices enlarge us and sometimes they're choices that seems to lead us to live less. Sometimes has to die for something else to live. The seed has to fall to the ground. The Book of Ecclesiastes famously says that Eternity is written on our hearts, which is great frustration - smaller hearts could be satisfied but we're left to fall.

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