Saturday, October 27, 2012

Film: we are all connected

Like Avatar, whose message was ‘we are all connected’ (to nature, to our ancestors) and which included corporate greed destroying anyone/anything in its path, Cloud Atlas gives the same syrupy, but not untrue, message, but it does so in a more interesting and bloody way, jumping through time and Oscar-worthy make-up artistry to, like Soylent Green, let us know just how carnivorous greed can be. In an intersubjective age of psychoanalysis, where neurobiological research demonstrates that experience affects our chemistry and anatomy (and, even our genes) and that our thoughts affect the thoughts of others, add to these the recognition of the intergenerational transmission of trauma (my mother’s dissociation becomes my own), we certainly are connected, to each other and through time. But why does the film audience require this to be made so Dr. Phil explicit as if putting it into symbols (whether words or images) will have as powerful an effect as procedural learning? Even the visual images, whether Pappy taking his granddaughter’s hand or two people making love, are symbols here, as if film lacks the capacity to teach implicitly. Not that I wasn’t entertained by Cloud Atlas—who doesn’t love Tom Hanks and Halle Berry? – it’s just that I find being hit over the head with the message tiresome. I prefer the unfolding of an experience, the development of relationship as it occurs through time,as in an analysis or in life.

The Perks of being a Wallflower allowed for this, and so to me it was more ‘real’ not because it used few special effects and stuck to fantasy only as it is experienced in the human psyche of the film character, but because it never screamed “Look at me, I am intergenerational trauma!” It never repeated “We are all connected!” but instead demonstrated it through the healing powers of friendship and friendship's connection. The latter movie may be nominated for less Oscars, but it is far more satisfying as a vehicle to demonstrate the message. 

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