Friday, May 28, 2010

Seeing Avatar

I originally saw the film Avatar in theaters months ago. January, I believe. 3-D, excellent effects, but not a story to write home about. Predictable story lines happen to be an issue for personal soap-box agenda, so my ability to accurately predict the film in its entirety left me rather unimpressed, to say the least. I walked out of the theater willing to praise its effects and directing, but the film on the whole? Good thing I'm not a formal critic.

Without going into the whole story of it, I saw it again this evening. For myself, it was practically a dare. I sat and watched and dared the film to dazzle me as it has so many others. I was terrifically skeptical, but decided to play fair; I conceded my qualms with predictability and looked beyond the plot.

I lost my own dare. I could write pages on what I saw.

There is only one thought that I want to record: the contrast of life and death. I am very visually-oriented; I feel meaning through my eyes. In visual orientation alone the cultural interpretations on life and death were presented in a beautiful contrast. First, 'civilized man.' Kept in a manufactured world of steel and guns, he sees change as death. Those individuals who adopt Avatars, who undergo transformation, who face change must do so in a coffin. Look a the device they lay in, entomb their bodies in. No warmth, no life. Only a steel box.

The 'natives' do not build steel worlds. Instead of living under ego, they live under deity. This difference proves colossal. In the briefest of moments, the camera pans over a funeral scene. No steel boxes. Only a small, round hole in the soft dirt. Inside, the body curled as a fetus in a new womb. There lies the difference. Change is not death, even death is not death. It is life.

It reminds me of the title of a book I once read: The Birth That We Call Death. I think I've started to understand.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fasten Your Seat Belts. I Mean It.

I am a seat belt advocate. I sit in a car, and by compulsion, strap in immediately. I get nervous when others around me don't do so. I suppose it's slightly obsessive--the wearing of seat belts has become agenda for my personal soapbox-- but I can imagine worse things to obsess over. It's such a tiny device that has the capacity to save so much life. I stumbled across this commercial, and, of course, instantly loved it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Out of Africa

I am a great fan of movies. I love analyzing the camera shots which give perspective, the words which give voice, and the music which delivers the soul of the film. My favorite films, however, are the ones which can take you from yourself, to pull you from the commonplace, the tread patterns of your day of existence and give you new eyes.

I rewatched a favorite of mine this past week: Out of Africa. I've found not many people have heard of it, which I think is quite a loss. It is a film which robs you of your monotony. You are transposed into Africa, you tread the red dirt, you absorb the natives' songs in the next village, you soak yourself with the rain's arrival.

My favorite element of this film, however, is its memory. In essence, the entire film runs not on a cohesive plot, but a stream of memories. It's quite evident to anyone who has seen the film. There is a easy pace. Sometimes, catastrophes fall, as they do in any life. Sometimes, there are no catastrophes to greet, so one goes on regardless. The film is mere memories. No blatant attempt to manipulate the feelings of the viewer, just a fair portrayal of a woman's life.

It makes me think a bit about lives flashing before the eyes. It's an old cliche, of course, but this idea still resounds in the consciousness of nearly anything with two legs. What will I make of my life? What have I made of it already? I love watching the memories because it helps me remember what I want to flash before my eyes. Life is an exciting race. I like to hope I'm not afraid to chase down the exotic and extraordinary opportunities which hide from common view. There is great excitement in the race. I suppose I better start running.


I went for a walk today. A night walk, my favorites. I have always felt an odd sort of attraction to the night. Shops close, street lights flicker into importance, cars and pedestrians thin and sometimes disappear altogether. The world seems different. Intimate, in a sense.

During the day there is a sense of errand. The sun shines and with every degree reminds its worshippers of the passing moments, hours. Feet trickle in and out of shops, banks, gas stations. Used coins and bills exchange hands, plastic cards swish and swipe in such determined rhythm. Daytime is for errands.

The sun retires, though. He is tired. He has rushed man along, he has earned his rest after his day of errands. The moon is less rushed. He simply peruses the town. Not so much to buy, the shops are closed. Not many to rush, as most are resting comfortably in their own beds. Except for me and few others.

There is a serene comfort in the night. Walking the resting streets, peering in the darkened windows. Nodding with familiar recognition to the few strangers who share your path. This intimacy has always sung to me. The world in its purest element. Resting.