I heard somewhere recently that most people now think of their lives as a movie. I was wondering what came before television, after all, wasn’t television news-based when it came on at first? Or was it serial reading and did content production advance at the same time – someone can inform me but that’s not the point. What are we getting at with a movie perspective?
It can’t really be narrative; after all narrative structures were around a lot longer than television of course. So what defines the medium? For me it’s immediacy, putting oneself into a time frame of resolution – of dramatic moment. But theatre works this way as well doesn’t it?
Perhaps it’s the type of involvement for so many years since childhood in a way that we identify with other personalities almost without taking note, having at our disposal a ready band of characters and possibilities in the script. Don’t we all want to be Joey, Phoebe, or Chandler – when the occasion arises?
And to some degree we have a complete picture without imagination. I was walking home while thinking about the terminator scene where the parts of the machine are stored in museum-like cases, with busy technicians shuffling about – one holding up the forearm and hand. I was creating a new scene in which the terminator grabbed the spokes of a passing bicycle, and, rather than sheering off a finger or two, snatched the bicycle from underneath the rider who launched over the handlebars. The lab scene was from the film, the cyclist was not. I immediately adapted the film story for my personal amusement.
Perhaps then it is this juxtaposition of the real with the image from the visual story line, or maybe even the replacement of the real with something that has been implanted. I had no thought that one was a movie moment, and another was not – or that both were unreal. They existed for a moment.
As actors in our own dramas we have meta-conscious moments that allow us to see ourselves as perhaps others do. Writing sometimes has that effect as we see ourselves speaking to an audience, etc. It’s not all that complicated – more like a hall of mirrors or one mirror placed in front of another while we stand in between, looking at our own reflections, and our reflection’s reflections
Why speak of it if it is this simple? Well, it compares to other moments that are much more authentic: Feelings without thoughts for example. The ones we describe after their establishment, when we have to root out why we are sad or why we are even…awake at this hour? The sifting through possibilities and taking honest stock is also like a hall of mirrors, but the focus is on the self, not the image of the self, if we do it right. Maybe we need a little help. Or maybe the answers from others are too simple for us at the time and we seek greater understanding elsewhere. The dichotomy of the real versus the imaginary is the relationship of the self to the outside world. Its struggle for form and substance is often out of our control but we keep searching – sort of like seeing a movie for the first time – where the movie informs us of who and what we are.