Thursday, January 24, 2013

What a Girl Wants: Twilight on an African Holiday

I like movies. Films. Whatever you call 'em, I like them. I find screenplays fascinating. How a book is transformed to dialogue and descriptive text that come out of a writer's mind and then to life with the help of a camera, boom mic and on location or studio set is a process I would one day like to see unveiled before me. But, at this time, I have to settle for the finished product. And I am drawn in whether these stories are told on a Blu-Ray player in my home or on the larger-than-life screen of the cinema. Movies have a story and something to say. How we listen and what we hear is personal. We can miss the subtext entirely ... or we can be moved or changed by it.

My taste in movies varies. It's influenced by the actors. The directors. The marketing -- yes, an intriguing title and movie poster can draw me in completely. But, probably most importantly, my taste in movies is directly related to my mood. With the exception of horror films -- sorry Stephen King I just don't enjoy those and the nightmares resulting -- and documentaries, my emotional state leads me to different movies. The experiences are unique and I truly enjoy the journey.

First of all, let me get it out there that I enjoyed the Twilight series. No, I'm not the target age-market, but I read all the books. Twice. And I enjoyed the way these stories came to life on screen. I responded to the way the characters struggled with their feelings ... with trying to do the right thing and think about the other person more than themselves. I liked the romance. I liked the drama. I truly connected to the final lines of the third film, a moment between Bella and Edward that is the core of the story. "This is a choice ... between between who I should be and who I am. I've always felt out of step, like literally stumbling through my life. I've never felt normal, because I'm not normal. I don't wanna be. I've had to face death and loss and pain in your world but I've also never felt stronger...more real, more myself because it's my world too. It's where I belong."  That kind of self-awareness ... well, it hit me. And the love between these two characters thrives on their absolute honesty with themselves and each other. It's idyllic. It's what so many search for. So to watch two people find this kind of timeless passion is beautiful no matter the elemental sides of vampire, werewolf and supernatural creatures. Some people are influenced by the trappings ... me, I go to the heart of the matter. 

Another favorite is Roman Holiday. If you haven't seen it, you should. Here's Queen-to-be Audrey Hepburn and all she wants is to live and experience a normal day in Rome. She escapes the palace and embarks on a magnificent adventure, stumbling into the very handsome Gregory Peck in the process. He's a writer and at first he's all about getting the story. But the love story takes over. They have a whirlwind day and then ... she goes back to the palace. No, the guy doesn't get the girl. But then again, at the heart of the matter, that happens too. And they had a heckuva good day, leaving a lifetime of memories to treasure.

My "Go To" movie when I need a lift is one few have probably heard about, despite the star billings. What A Girl Wants tells the story of Daphne, raised by a very loving mother but without her dad. So she goes in search of her fairy tale father, one of the "peerage" in England who just happens to be running a race for Parliament. Her uniqueness has its own appeal ... then she tries to conform, discovering in the process how important it is, to quote the Bard, to "thy own self be true." Won't spoil the ending, which features this amazing kiss between Colin Firth and Kelly Preston. But suffice it to say, finding and embracing your authentic self is at the heart of this film.

But my favorite epic masterpiece is Out of Africa. Meryl Streep ... Robert Redford. The challenge of an unforgiving, unrelenting African climate. The battle between comfort and adventure. Love and loss amidst a harsh yet rich landscape. The struggle of a woman trying to find her own way. There is are so many lines in this film that I could quote. So many poignant moments that resonate with my soul. But to me the key message comes from Redford's role of Denys ... He says to Karin:  I don't want to live someone else's idea of how to live ... I don't want to find out one day that I'm at the end of someone else's life."

Today so many people do that ... live according to others' rules or expectations. Being individual is a challenge. Fitting in and belonging is very desirable. To be part of a group or relationship where you feel a sense of belonging is to many what life is all about. And once you achieve that sense, it's very difficult to rock the boat. There's safety in the comfort zone. Paving your own path can result on you getting lost. Or falling amidst weeds. Falling down and getting hurt.

But in all the movies I am drawn to, someone is moving out of their comfort zone to make greater discoveries ... know deeper love ... experience a more vibrant existence. So as I look to Twilight and Roman Holiday and What a Girl Wants and Out of Africa, a theme calls out to me. I'm drawn to these films because I'm on my own holiday to figure out who I am and learn how best to be myself. Perhaps I'll channel Alice in Wonderland tomorrow and grow curiouser and curiouser until I look through the looking glass and glimpse the many dimensions of my true self. Are you curious? Are there aspects of you that are reflected in the movies you choose? What are those movies saying to you and about you? Are you listening?

Movies -- at least the ones I choose to watch -- empart a message. The message varies and the message one person hears may be completely different than another. But when you pause and take the time ... a movie can take you to the heart of the matter. Think about your favorite movies and make your own conclusions ...

                                                                                               -- Jenni