This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Taking It Slow: How To Digest A Film

Yesterday, I watched a documentary called Cat Dancers about Ron and Joy Holiday and Chuck Lizza-- a trio of former dancers who became one of the first exotic tiger entertainment acts. Overall, it was a love story about people who found each other and connected intimately over their desire to entertain and care for their beloved exotic tigers on their ranch in Florida.

Their lives were happy, fulfilled, and beautiful, but beauty and happiness is never everlasting. Ron Holiday narrates the story of his life, his loves, and the tragedies that rocked the foundation of everything he'd ever known. It's powerful and beautiful and heartbreaking to watch. (In many ways, it reminded me of the richness, beauty, and tragic story of Patrick Swayze and his wife Lisa Niemi.)

Film, real and/or imagined is powerful stuff.

Imagine you've been invited to a five-course meal at a classy restaurant. Maybe you don't know what fork to use or what wine to order. You may encounter foods you've never seen (or tasted) before. The whole process may take longer than you expect it to. The conversation will be challenging, yet invigorating-- but you will walk away satiated and better for having had the experience.

Whenever you watch a film, you should embrace the whole of the experience. Notice your senses. Watch the shots, the camera moves, the depth and the textures, the colors, the emotions, and listen to the music. The composition of each shot, each frame, is like a taste, a bite with its own unique flavor and emotion that stands alone but combined with other shots enhances the experience.

We're used to digesting popcorn flicks- the movies that entertain us, fill us up in the moment, and pass the time. We're not as familiar with viewing the films that nourish us, enlighten us, and inform us about the human experience. If we take the time for formalities-- we set the table, we digest our food thoroughly, we slow down, and we take the time to interpret our lives and discuss our experiences. Film should be treated with the same level of respect.

Slow down. Be mindful. Too many times we are distracted, multi-tasking, trying to find way to numb ourselves from the experience of truly living. But we can learn more from experiencing and observing the range of human experience through challenging, intelligent films, foreign films, and documentaries. We may think that the emotional and spiritual journey of another human being (fictional or real) does not affect us. Yet if we are engaged and connected, we learn to be open to all the emotions our minds have given us to experience and we learn to be compassionate as we look at the world. Over time, we learn about ourselves and that is the major purpose of life-- our journey-- how we have affected and touched others, what we left behind, and how we will leave this world a better place in some small way.

Films should be seen like droplets of water. Filmmakers know that no one film is going to change the world. Yet, collectively films of the highest caliber can change your mind, challenge your beliefs, test your emotions, motivate you to act, and encourage you. The next time you watch a film, open your eyes and take a second look.

Copyright 2009 by KLiedle

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