A Dreamer Walking

An Appeal To Humanity

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on February 5, 2012

Gosh, I have been thinking about what I was going to write here for weeks now. I am probably making this be way too big of a deal, but this post happens to be my 200th. Don’t worry I am not going to give you a long paper on stuff I have done in the past. However, I have been wanting to make this post be an “extra special” post. I have scratched out a few ideas because I didn’t think they were BIG enough or worthy enough to be my “200th”. I am slowly coming to the realization that I probably won’t think anything I write is BIG enough :/. So without further ado my 200th post…

In essence I believe film is an appeal to humanity. The films that are noticed, that last, are the ones trying to dig deeper into the human condition. Whether it is Darren Aronofsky and his Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream pictures that explore the slow corruption of the human soul through obsession and abuse of the human body. Or Steven Spielberg’s genuine exploration of redemption and relationship through movies like Schindler’s List and E. T.  It is not grand special effects that make a movie last; the special effect that were amazing to the 1970’s Star Wars audience is primitive to today’s movie goer. No, if we want to create movies that hold the test of time- movies that impact our children’s and grandchildren’s generation like Citizen Kane, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Gone With the Wind impacted us- we must create movies that explore the core of humanity and use all the elements of cinema to enhance the foundations that truly matter to a movie- story and character.

The little things in grand epics impact me the most. Even though in Lord of the Rings there are tons of spectacular visual effects and magnificent action sequences- like the Fellowship fighting the orcs in the Minds of Moria or the great calvary charge toward the end of Return of the King– the scene that had the most impact on me was one with just Sam and Frodo. The two are at the bottom of Mount Doom, the place where the One Ring was forged and the only place it can be destroyed. Frodo who’s body is full of blisters, who is dieing from starvation and thirst, and is fighting the power of the evil ring, starts up the great mountain. Soon he becomes too weak to walk so he starts to crawl. Slowly he loses the ability to move any further. At that moment, when he confesses himself beaten, Sam picks him up and starts to take him the rest of the way. This scene impacted me the most in the Lord of the Rings trilogy because it impacted me at the most personal level. I saw the love Frodo had for Middle Earth through his passion to get up the mountain. I saw Sam’s unyielding commitment and love for his friend Frodo through finding the strength to carry him. The scene had a simple theme of music playing and there were no sophisticated camera movements. The filmmakers slowed down enough from the great war scenes and grand special effects to show the two characters’ friendship at its peak and remind us what the whole journey was all about. Often when the filmmakers choose to slow down and celebrate the quite moments in their story we are allowed to see the golden thread that makes their story so worth telling.

I go to the movies to see something I have never seen before. However, I want what I see to matter to me at a personal level. Sometimes the most abstract stories impact an audience the most. Animation is a good example of this. In movies like Bambi, Beauty and the Beast, and Up, we are shown lines from a pencil and pixels created from inside a computer and are told we should care for them. The lines create talking animals and fairy creatures. The pixels create living toys and flying houses. None of this is real. We know this. They don’t even try to replicate reality. Sometimes the pixels create characters with heads that are three times the size as any human. Sometimes the drawings create crickets that don’t look anything like crickets. Yet, Carl Fredricksen with his huge head and Jiminy Cricket whose name is the only thing that really gives us a clue he is a cricket, capture the imagination of their audience. They become real to us because they strike true at an emotional level. Jiminy has feelings just like us, he is quickly offended and has a deep need to be noticed as being worth something. Carl is an old cranky man who is trying to find a reason to live after the loss of his wife and greatest friend. These things resonate with us and make Carl and Jiminy live inside our imagination.

Great films are the ones that appeal to humanity. We need to identify with the characters we see on screen. We need to feel their happiness, anger, and sorrow. The story they embark on means nothing if we do not see them as real people. If we do not understand why they choose to rise above injustice and hatred or why they end up falling into despair and corruption. Moments like Capt. Miller saying “Earn this” to Pvt. Ryan and the touching of heads between Raymond Babbitt and his brother Charlie impact me to the core. They impact me because Steven Spielberg showed me exactly how much it cost for Ryan to be saved and Barry Levinson allowed me to understand how hard it was for someone like Raymond to reach out in such a simple yet personal way. A love scene is not impacting unless you can get us to buy into the relationship. A death is not significant unless you show us the true life that was lost.

All film boils down to is life and death. Most of my films will hopefully concentrate on the importance of life. But to be able to understand the value of life I must know the true loss of death. We need to bring the characters we create to the brink of death if we want them along with the audience to understand the true value of life. The opposite applies if you want to understand death. In order to gain curtain things we need to let go of other things. This is how humanity works. We are constantly exploring what it means to live and what it means to die. This is why if we truly want to be great filmmakers, if we truly want to be storyteller’s who are remembered through the ages, we go out and experience real life. The greatest stories you will tell will not be inspired by books or movies, rather by your own life experiences. Nobody has the same perspective on life as you do. Nobody has the exact friends you do, or lives the same way you live. Your own interpretation of the films you watch, the art you look at, and the people you meet is what makes your perspective so important.

The person you know the best should be yourself. Don’t run away from your perspective in fear that people will not understand it or will not think it to be good enough. I would be dishonest to myself to create films that show no hope for our world. Some people, such as Fincher and Kubrick have a much more cynical view of the world. In their films they stay true to themselves and because of this they have created classics that concentrate on some of the darker aspects of the human race. The audience knows if you are being sincere or not.

The point I want to make in this blog is to be true to yourself and give your audience something to think about. Develop a perspective of this world and an idea for where it can go or where it’s going that needs to be seen and taken seriously. Humanity has so many different faces. Humanity is truly a never ending topic that has been explored in art and film for literally thousands of years. Whether it is through a few lines on paper, a bunch of pixels in a computer, or the lens of a camera, create images that can’t be ignored because they hit at the very core of what makes us hate, love, want to die, and want to live- in essence, what makes us human.

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