Over the past couple of weeks, I have had a reawakening of sorts in regards to film. When I graduated from Ryerson with my degree in Film Studies, I had the feeling that I had had my fill of filmmaking for a while, if not for good. I bet many of my teachers and classmates would have found that surprising, given that I graduated top of my class and was honoured with many filmmaking awards over my time at Ryerson. I smile to think of the look on their faces if they knew I was "just a mom" now.
Truly, I was tired of the entire scene. The long hours, the fast-paced life, the heavy demands, the sharp attitudes - I felt that I was moving in a different direction. I yearned for quiet, peace, family, and time to develop my many other loves and interests.
But the last three or four films I've seen have sparked my old passion once again. The flame is still small, as I find this love in opposition to my current state, and yet that little fire is growing steadily. The films weren't particularly brilliant, artistic, or "Oscar-worthy". They ran the complete spectrum in themes, genres, characters and plots. But I found myself unusually moved and affected by each one.
Those of you who are passionate artists will understand, but I would like to try and convey some of the emotion I experience in relation to my artistic passions (specifically filmmaking, piano and vocal performance and writing).
The last three films I saw were: Mamma Mia, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and The Dark Knight. A musical comedy, a coming of age, and an action film (respectively).
As I sat in the theatre to watch "Mamma Mia", I experienced joy. A contented smile perched on my lips from the opening shot as I was touched by the performance of the lead actress. Her infectious smile, charming eyes and easy-going manner are no doubt crafted to illicit joyous emotions from a viewing audience. But my joy was deeper. I wasn't feeling it because of the characters or the story. My emotions weren't changed as the plot points unraveled; I wasn't manipulated as the director would intend by the various elements of the movie. The film was speaking to me on a deeper level. I was finding my joy in the heart of the film itself.
"The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" I picked up one night when James was away on business. A quintessential "chick flick", I figured he wouldn't mind if he missed it (he didn't). This film spoke to me in much the same was as "Mamma Mia", but with heartache instead of joy. It isn't a particularly sad film, although there are teary moments. But it was the soul of the film that I found aching. I shed tears in unexpected moments - not at a death or a loss, but in scenes that simply reached out as examples of powerful filmmaking. It was as if the movie itself was the emotion of "heartache".
"The Dark Knight" I saw in theatre with James on Friday. I had been prepped for a dark, dismal and depressing event, especially considering the sudden death of the young lead actor earlier this year. Reviews had been mostly favourable, and yet the general consensus was there could be a little bit more hope or cheeriness instilled. As I watched, my heart pounded from opening shot to closing credits. My mind raced through scenes as acting, directing, cinematography, editing, music, costumes, effects and every element of filmmaking coalesced in my mind's eye. Contrary to the darkness most people felt, I experienced a high level of excitement. It was the thrill of filmmaking coursing through my veins. It was the final leg of my return to the love and art of creating a movie.
I used to find myself laughing, crying or tense at the oddest parts of films. I often laughed aloud and alone in a movie theatre, or made it through entire films without shedding a tear only to lose it completely at a throw-away scene near the end. It was as though I was in tune with the movie on a different level. Over the last few years I had lost that, finding myself bored and untouched by what I saw. And I had no desire at all to participate in the making of a film.
And now I feel that old love reawakening. She is calling to me and I am slowly returning, homeward bound in a sense. There is no doubt that I am greatly changed, as a person and a filmmaker, from the woman I was at graduation. But I am excited to see where I am taken now as I grasp hands with my old friend Film once again.