Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Many of you know that I am quite the movie junkie, including a lot of old and obscure movies.  So much so, that in my normal conversation with friends, I draw parallels to movies.  I got an e-mail from a friend of mine yesterday, where we were cogitating a procedural problem, and in his reply had told me that my "angle" on the problem was "good...very good."  I replied back, "Yeah, you know me, I'm clever in that 'country lawyer' way...just like Jimmy Stewart in 'Anatomy of a Murder'."

So what is it about movies that hooks me?

Oh, some of it, I think, is that, growing up in a small town, movies were a window to an entire world that was simply not visibile beyond the boundaries of Macon, MO.

Some of it was that, as an only child, I learned at an early age to entertain myself by "people watching", and I found that movies were a way to "watch people" more intently but in a place with fewer boundaries.  You can stare and squint at people in a movie with no fear of them thinking you're weird.  I grew up not identifying with the movie stars per se (other than liking certain people's work) but identifying with the characters they played.  I looked at how these characters handled problems and issues and could see many times it was different than how I saw things handled in my real life.  Not necessarily better or worse, simply different.

The lure of "old movies" came when I realized that even in different times, with different clothes, and a different world around them, well...people are still all kind of the same.  Yet at the same time, I could see "society was different."  We look now at movies such as the silent classic "Birth of a Nation," or "The Jazz Singer," and we realize that what was an "acceptable racial attitude" in 1915 or 1927 is abhorrent now.  We see through the window of classic film that the world has both changed and remained the same.

As I became firmly entrenched into adulthood, I also became fascinated with how the people who produce and direct and film movies use the technical aspects of cinematography to carry emotions and perceptions.  One of my all time fascinations is with Alfred Hitchcock movies.  He could use scene contstruction and camera angles to convey amazing realizations.  One of his favorite techniques was to use the cinematography of a scene so the movie watcher knows beyond the shadow of a doubt what is going to happen but the character does not.  Take, for instance, Tippi Hedren smoking a cigarette on that park bench in "The Birds" with the jungle gym behind her.  Here comes one bird...then another...and another...and you are sitting there knowing that those birds are about to cut loose on everyone and there she is, blithely smoking her cigarette.  You want to tell her what is about to happen.  You know it's gonna be bad.  She cannot hear you or listen to you.

What I've discovered is classic film has taught me to "be aware."  It's taught me to "dream of the possibilities."  It's taught me to examine myself.  It's taught me that not all endings are happy, but some are surprisingly so.  It's taught me to appreciate the mundane.  It's taught me, frankly, "to see God in the details," and the beauty of our DVD world is that we can do this in our own sacred safe spaces, in the comfort of our own homes, alone, or with friends, as well as at the movie theater.  The other beauty of the DVD world is, if you didn't get it the first time, unlike life, you can back it up and do it again!

Classic film also teaches me that as humans, we evolve and transform.  Think of how cinematography was very crude 100 years ago, but people still realized it could convey emotion.  Think of how this emotion was conveyed in the era of silent film vs. talkies.  Think of how color cinematography opened up mere color as a conveyor of feeling.  Our ability to express AND observe evolves along with these innovations in film.

In that sense, I thank God for the creative minds that have made movies in the past 120 years or so.  I think of my own spiritual evolutions and transformations, my own dealings with stability and change, gains and losses in my life, and dramatic transformations within what others might see as "plain" or "mundane."  I think about how my own realizations of God have evolved, just as my ability to see what movies convey has evolved.  I think of how the Holy Spirit moves in this barely perceptible way, how many times it has moved me from "Tippi Hedren sitting on that park bench in 'The Birds'" to a fuller sense of awareness.  I think of how movies have allowed me to "sit still with my emotions" and open me up to communion with God in that "sitting still" sort of way.  What marvelous blessings all these things are, and I am truly grateful!


Your description about the typical Hitchcock scene - like Tippie, the jungle gym and a bunch of crows - there's a scene within a scene also - we watch as the cafe crowd watches as the guy lights his cig not knowing the gasoline is running towards him. So just like the birds on the jungle gym, the folks in the cafe see all and are behind glass and can't catch the guys attention.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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