Film has the ability to bring together people from all walks of life. It has the power to start conversations surrounding important issues like 12 Years a Slave did or recent release Selma has done. It also allows you to be exposed to a variety of situations you may or may not have experienced. That’s what I love about films, experiencing a characters story and truly empathise with them, without being too close to the situation. With 12 Years a Slave, it feels so raw and brutal yet we know we never have to suffer the pain of slavery. You can follow Solomon’s journey, without having to be wrongly imprisoned, you can feel his struggle to fight for freedom without battling against oppression.
As stated in my blog post about animation, my film taste is varied. This allows me to experience films ranging from Changeling to Tangled, because no matter what the genre it’s the story and character that is important. But for this blog post I will focus on the more serious side of film, the more darker and emotional type. To list a few, I love Never Let Me Go, La Vie En Rose, Seven Pounds, 12 Years a Slave and so on.
For me, these types of films allow me to let my guard down and just feel emotions. I have never been a clone knowing I would be harvested, or fight to find my missing son, or feel the burden to save seven lives, but watching films covering these topics I can try and understand their pain. In The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel states that “Pain demands to be felt.” For which I can agree with.
Clearly film is my passion, but I don’t look to it for life advice. However, when watching Never Let Me Go, it made me think about life really deeply. If you’re unfamiliar with the film, it follows three characters who are clones created to be harvested for organs. With the knowledge of the fact they have short life expectancy and struggling with trying to define what makes us human and dealing with relationships. It’s a grounded science fiction film which really struck a chord with me.
Led by Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightly and Andrew Garfield, the film really got to me and just made me think about how we need to spend our lives in a meaningful way. Imagine knowing that you will die around your mid 20’s. With the sole purpose to survive, not to live a fulfilled life, so you can donate organs so others can live longer and happier lives. It must be heartbreaking knowing you can never truly live and that it will just end.
I tend to put myself in the shoes of the character. So when I watch the film I try to imagine what it must be like knowing you will die soon. Imagining what it must be like to see friends close to you die and to know you will never experience the pleasures of life. Most heartbreakingly of all, knowing that your life will just end. Nothing beyond life itself (for would a clone go to the afterlife?) These questions and thoughts are posed strongly when I watch this film.
Another film which I can completely connect to without having to lose a child, is the 2008 drama Changeling. Angelina Jolie boats a heartbreakingly real performance in her Oscar nominated role as Christine Collins. A mother who fights against all obstacles to find her missing son. Jolie completely leads the audience through her characters journey, as you feel her pain and root for her to find justice for her son. Specifically when she is wrongly imprisoned in a psychiatric ward, as an audience member you feel Christine has faced injustice and you want to fight for her freedom. Not only does she have to deal with losing a son, but when she knows the found child is not her son no one believes her. Then they basically throw her away, you just have no idea what she must have been feeling.
Not to mention this is based on a true story in 1928. What makes it even more poignant is that you never see Christine find her son, despite all she went through. However, a survivor of the events of the film, reveals how Walter escaped. This gives Christine hope that Walter could be alive. I can really easily connect myself to a character, and I felt Christine’s sense of hope and comfort in knowing her son may have found refuge.
Speaking of hope, through pain there is hope. In 12 Years a Slave, after a horrific account of a mans years in slavery, he is rescued and given his life back. The moment where he is picked up from the Epps’ plantation, the camera stays with Solomon’s face which perfectly encapsulates a range of emotions. From relief, to confusion, to disbelief and to joy. Whilst you know his life will never be the same, it is an incredible story of perseverance, survival and hope. In The Pursuit of Happyness, when Chris Gardner (Will Smith) finds out he’s secured a job, you feel a huge sense of relief on behalf of the character. To overcome such obstacles, to have finally achieved the means to create a better life for himself and his son, it’s inspirational. Sometimes joy doesn’t find a character (look at Never Let Me Go) but doesn’t matter. What matters is feeling emotions, going on a journey with the characters and having a wider understanding of the world.
What kind of films do you enjoy? Feel free to comment and share your opinions!