Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Listen to this song - it will change your life, I swear."

I was talking to a friend a couple weeks ago, about my major and what I'm going to do after college, and I said something to the effect that I wanted to make movies that changed people's lives. And his reaction, well, it was almost like disbelief. I know that not everyone holds the view that film can be art. Lots of people think that it's just entertainment (the most powerful entertainment industry right now, but...). But I felt a little shocked, not only that my friend had never been moved by a film to the point where it helped shape his life, but that he seemed to think I was naive for believing so.

I have my doubts about this career. It seems pretty selfish sometimes. I have friends who are going to be doctors and nurses and missionaries, and I'm going to go play around in pretend worlds. But then I remember reading something in Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis, which is basically his spiritual autobiography. I don't remember what the exact passage is (even after trying to go back and find it several times), but he talks about how he was prepared for his conversion to Christian through all the books he had read, the ancient pagan myths and fairy tales alike, how his "imagination was, in a certain sense, baptized; the rest of me, not unnaturally, took longer." One of the greatest Christian thinkers of all times was prepared for his faith through the stories he heard.

I'm in love with the movie Stranger than Fiction. I've seen it three times already and I'm planning on buying it once I have a chance to get a cheap copy. I was watching it last night with about ten other people, and I realized that a writer and a filmmaker, the movie resonates differently with me. Kay Eiffel is a writer, and she wants to write the most amazing masterpiece of a book ever. Every writer wants to write a masterpiece. But there comes a time when she has to choose between her finishing masterpiece and therefore killing someone or changing the end of her book to save a life. And in the end she has a beautiful quote when replying to a professor about her book:

"[I]t's a book about a man who doesn't know he's about to die. And then dies. But if a man does know he's about to die and dies anyway. Dies- dies willingly, knowing that he could stop it, then- I mean, isn't that the type of man who you want to keep alive? "

If every movie I ever wrote was based on this core idea, I would be happy. If every movie I ever wrote was about love and sacrifice, the beauty in life inspite of the pain, the hope, friendship, family that redeems our lives, I would never regret picking this selfish career. If a movie can open a person's eyes up to the love in life and inspire them to actually live, isn't it worth three years of my life and eight of their dollars? Film has so much potential to show life as it is and as it should be. Imagine if the film industry became an industry that produced movies that had a real purpose. What if the industry could spread hope?

I know my life has been shaped by movies. Art restores my faith in people. When you get a chance to see truth, in no matter what form, you can't just ignore it. It would just be nice to know if other people felt the same way too.

Has anyone had a movie change their life?


michanon said...

Soul Plane irrevocably changed my life. Fo shizzle.

Josh said...

Too many to count. That's why I took the same academic path you did. And that's why even though all my lawyer and doctor and MBA friends are buying their second "fun" cars and putting down payments on their luxury condos and I'm living on their couches, I still feel like I made the right choice.

I'm creating art. I'm doing what I know I was born to do. I get kids coming up to me every few days asking when my next book is coming out because they can't wait to read it. I'd be okay living in a cardboard box so long as I had that.

Don't get discouraged, kid. You made the right choice and history will bear that out.