This winter vacation has been about catching up on movies. It was a hell of a long haul this past few months and one of the things that got dropped off along the way was watching movies (well, that and spending a day watching pro football every weekend, but that’s another story…). So, as soon as I got past the Christmas crunch I set my sights on catching up on all the movies I’d been missing. Traditionally that would have been Christmas day but that didn’t quite happen because I got all wrapped up in “renovating” my apartment. So it took me a few days before I got things in order at home enough to justify a night out at Taco Beach followed by a viewing of “The Chronicles of Narnia.”
I hadn’t read the books but knew that the movie would be very “Lord of the Rings” like in it imagery and scale. So as the story unfolded I went along with the sibling squabbling and the little girl’s accidental discovery of this imaginary land. I felt a bit weird about a half-naked half-man/half-fawn putting knock-out drugs in a little girl’s tea while he played the flute for her, but I got over it because his reaction when she confronted him with this betrayal was so sweet and heart-felt. Then as the rest of the siblings fell into the story and the encounters with these strange talking creatures which built up to the encounter with Aslan, I sized up that this was a nice tale, but it didn’t hit me the way LOTR (Lord of the Rings) had. Granted, Narnia is seen mostly through the eyes of these young kids and even though the creatures kept saying that they’d been waiting a hundred years for the children to arrive, the story didn’t seem to have depth that made me feel like there was a history that stretched back thousands of years as I felt with LOTR. But I think that there was something else that was also influencing my experience of the film.
Next film in the queue was Peter Jackson’s “King Kong.” It had been rainy for a couple of days so that seemed to help connect with the depressed rain-soaked beginning of the movie. Jackson couldn’t have picked a more beautiful actress to portray his “Ann.” The story wouldn’t have worked if we hadn’t begun to care about this character and it was very easy to care about her (and be greatly alarmed at the choices and chances she was taking… ). Alas, having been spoiled by Jackson’s previous special effects I was a bit disappointed at the scenes of the filming crew (and later the rescue crew) going to Skull Island because I could almost see the “seams” between the live-action and CG parts of the screen composition. Anyway, the story really took off from there and so many things began to happen so quickly that that one CG shortcoming didn’t effect the buy-in. In fact, so much happened that it seems to be worth seeing the movie a second time just to catch more of the action that happens when they’re on Skull Island. Anyway, one thing that helped the experience was the conversations we had after the movie between moi, my nephew, my sister and her husband and my brother and his wife. That part always seems to make movie nights all the more fun.
The next film I squeezed in was “Aeon Flux.” Okay, Charlize Theron is very hot but having a vague memory of the M-TV anime series I kind’a wondered at why they selected her. What I remember from the series was this assassin with impossibly long legs running around in this little outfit that seemed to be hardly there and a bit S&M. Granted, one has to give up on some elements of stylization when going from an animated character to live action, but it just seemed like everything was very “angular” and tall and Ms. Theron seemed to be more cutie-pie than tall-angular assassin (but then I never saw that film where she played the butch serial killer). Okay, that aside, I loved the visualization of encrypted communication via some kind of chemically-driven ESP. Four hundred years in the future, that seemed to be a very cool idea. When she hesitated killing the “leader” because seeing him triggered an unanticipated emotion (which we later find out was some kind of genetic “memories” or past life memories) I seemed to run into a problem that I’d noticed with “Narnia” and even “King Kong.”
In “Aeon Flux” when they remembered the love they’d shared in a previous life, and realized that it was so powerful that it could transcend death, my own capability to feel what that meant seemed to be lost. Three years ago when I was watching “The Two Towers” and Aragorn has a vision of his love, Arwen, coming to him and he realized that it had to be a dream and she smiled at him and kissed him saying that it was a great dream, I cried and cried because I knew what she meant. Even now, all these years later I tear up when I think about sitting in that darkened theater feeling the profound struggle of unrealized love that these two characters were going through. That’s probably a big part of why LOTR means so much to me, that I identified with this amazing love that brought out the best in these characters and how it made their choices all the more pure and selfless because there was nothing more important to them than the welfare and success of their friends. At the very end of “Return of the King,” after all they’d been through, all they’d suffered, all they’d nearly lost, after the King has been crowned and he’s reviewing his court, when he caught eye of Arwen as she was revealed behind the white veil, that was such a look of love. That timeless moment of Love Realized was what took my breath away and made me cry again because I knew what that felt like, to love like that and feel things so deeply that no cost was too much and no difficulty too big but to see the bright smile of ones beloved and to feel her complete embrace.
That was why I was only a bit moved when Aslan made his sacrifice, or when Ann pleaded with the ape to not battle with the men, or when the leader in Aeon Flux realized that his assassin had been his wife. I was having a hard time identifying with these characters because the love that I had cried over now seemed more fictional to me than the characters on the screen. She still loves me and I still love her but it seems to be a mere ghost of a memory that has nothing to do with our day to day existence and only comes out on New Year’s Eve and sometimes around our birthdays. When I think about LOTR I remember what it was like to be that much in love, so much in love that it hurt to not feel the constant connection, so much that I didn’t care how long it was going to take for this love to be realized. Alas, I guess I was wrong because I now realize that I can’t do this alone and no matter how much we may say that we love one another, if it doesn’t translated into something that makes itself felt every day than eventually it will become as meaningless as fictional characters on a movie screen.
I miss being in love. Even when we couldn’t be together, because I knew that if there was any way for that to happen she wanted it as badly as I wanted it, that was enough to keep it alive and real. It’s been a really really long time since I’ve felt that. And anything less than that feels like bullshit. I need that kind of love in my life. Maybe the movies weren’t quite LOTR in depth and quality but not having that sense of impending love in my life has obviously effected how I interact with the struggles of these characters. It just doesn’t seem to ring as true without love in my life. I know that I need to change that. JBB