Messages in Movies

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Messages in Movies

Postby W4TVQ » October 9th, 2007, 12:09 pm

I am surprised, sometimes, how much wisdom is transmitted to us through movies. I'm not much of a movie fan; most of the movies appearing today are not worth the time it takes to watch them, much less the high price of a movie ticket.

The nicest exceptions, IMO, are the magnificent movies of Hayao Miyazaki, the renowned Japanese animé director.

In particular there are two of his films that should be on evryone's "must see" list.

One is Called Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. It's a post-apocalypse drama set in a valley which is one of the few places left populated in the world. Princess Nausicaä leads her people in a place where one cannot go out without a mask for breathing, the valley is surrounded by a toxic jungle and the greatest dread are giant insects called (interestingly) the Ohm. It is really about the struggle to restore the bond between mankind and the earth, and about judgment: the Ohm, dreaded as bugaboo "evil" enemies, prove to be the Saviors. The voice of Patrick Stewart plays a role in the film.

The other is Spirited Away, concerning a young girl and her parents who are led into a "bathhouse for spirits," where the parents are turned into pigs and the girl must find a way to rescue them. This film has been shown on TV lately, but don't even think of watching it on TV: they butcher it to fit in hordes of ghastly commercials, and thus totally destroy it. They are "DVD only" sorts of films. The two witches, one the manager of the "bathhouse" and the other her twin sister and exact personality opposite, embody the yin/yang tension so crucial to the film.

Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli have done many films, these two being the best. Not only are they profound in content, the artwork is itself elegant and worth the time it takes to watch the film. Both films are packed with little touches that escape one on the first couple of viewings, little detials that add remarkable charm to the overall effect. This is especially notable in his charming, genuinely lovely fairy tale My Neighbor Totoro, Totoro being a teddy-bear-llike forest spirit who becomes a rescuer for some children.

"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Postby windabove » October 11th, 2007, 12:20 am

I very much agree. Cinema is the preferred art form for this age, and amid all the Amusement it is also the vehicle for much Muse-ment. I have several ideas why this is the case, but all could be summed around the extent that modern living has become vicarious. Thanks for the recommendations.

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Postby zoofence » October 19th, 2007, 7:43 pm

Interesting points. And thanks for the recommendations. They sound good. I will look for them.

I confess that I like movies. Nancy and I watch movies often. Always at home by VCR or DVD, not in theaters.

And I – we – like a wide variety of movies. Here are a few we have watched several times, and probably will again … light romances, like “Moonstruck”, “French Kiss”, “The American President” and “The Cutting Edge”; spy stories, like “Russia House”; action movies, like “Hunt for Red October”; courtroom stories, like “A Few Good Men”; classics like “Mrs. Minniver”, “Maltese Falcon”, “Laura” and “Witness for The Prosecution”; and others, including “Author! Author!”, “The Horse Whisperer”, “The Big Chill”, “Meet Joe Black”, “The Third Miracle”, “The Devil’s Advocate”, and a real gem, “Michael”, not to mention Kenneth Branagh’s production of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”, which provides just about as much fun as a movie can offer! Some of these and others of our favorites are on TZF’s Videos page.

To be sure, we like “serious” movies, too. It is interesting, if not surprising, how difficult it seems to be for Hollywood and their kin to produce decent movies based on “spiritual” subjects. Thus, in my view there has still not really been a good movie about the Gospels Teacher (although Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” is great fun), Francis of Assisi, Buddha, and the like. An exception may be “The Little Buddha”, but there the biography is a side story, although nicely done.

Are they foolish, meaningless, even vicarious exercises in nonsense? Probably. Even the serious ones, I suppose. But then again, considering that we are not what we seem to be, and therefore neither are we actually doing anything that we seem to be doing, what activity isn’t foolish, meaningless, and ultimately vicarious?

The challenge here as everywhere is to be aware of what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and what meaning, if any, we attach to it.

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Postby Gulliver » October 22nd, 2007, 11:58 am

How about Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" and the Hollywood version "The Magnificent Seven"?

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Postby W4TVQ » December 10th, 2007, 8:15 pm

We happend to catch "Evan Almighty" in the stateroom on our cruise last week. I recommend it highly: Not only is it hilarious, it is also profound.
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Re: Messages in Movies

Postby jenjulian » January 27th, 2008, 4:29 am

I'm sure I'm probably a good decade or two behind everyone, but I watched the documentary Joseph Campbell: The Power of Myth tonight. I could sit and listen to him talk for days. Very refreshing, moving and validating. He even talked about Martin Buber's I/thou ideas.
"I am what I am."--Popeye

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