Thursday, February 23, 2006

We need idealistic movies!

This weekend just past, I had a bit of a movie marathon.

First, to test out our new surround sound system, I watched the Coen Brothers' The Ladykillers. (Sure, not much of a surround-sound film, but it was next on my list). A great film, very funny to watch and intellectually satisfying as well.

That was Friday; Saturday had me going to the Auckland War Memorial Museum for a free screening of Illustrious Energy (screening was free, admission was not... still, I'm not complaining!). Brilliant, little-known New Zealand film from the late 80s about Chinese gold miners in New Zealand's deep south.

Sunday, I went with Marie and our two mums to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Everything I expected and more. Just like the book, but not predictably so.

Then on Monday, Marie and I snuck into a late session of North Country at the Berkeley (thanks to Movieshack for the free ticket!). A fantastic film, not just because it was directed by New Zealander Niki Caro, but because it was a powerful story, well told.

Now, time for me to get to the point.

The Point

While I really enjoyed Ladykillers and Illustrious Energy, Narnia and North Country left a huge impression in my mind.

Why? Because they're both films about good vs. evil. In both of them, the heroes are reluctant and feel inadequately skilled. In both, the odds stacked against our hero are incredibly high. In both, good eventually wins out over evil.

If you're familiar with Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey", you'll see they pretty much follow the pattern. But paradoxically, that pattern, done right, never wears out it's welcome.

And it made me think - sometimes simplistic, good vs. evil stories like these are criticised as not being 'art', because they don't reflect the complexity of reality.

But maybe that's just what we need sometimes. Simplisticity! Why? Because the courage shown by our heroes helps us gain courage to face the complexity of our lives.

Please don't take this as a criticism of Ladykillers or Illustrious Energy - they are both brilliant movies. What I'm saying is that some movies give you a take-out that's just for you to use in life. Others just help you reflect and say, yes, life is like that.

Over the next couple of days I'll dig a bit deeper into what stood out to me from Narnia and North Country.

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At 1:38 AM, Blogger Jack Yan said...

Have you seen the original Ladykillers, Si? Just wondered how they compared, if you have. (I know it wasn’t the point of your post, but I wondered.)

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Simon said...

Funny you should mention that... just done a side-by-side comparison at my other blog:


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