In the last couple days I’ve seen two fantastic movies. On Tuesday, Katy and I went to see The Social Network, and last night I saw (for the second time, but first in many years) The Thin Red Line. I love both of these movies, and it’s fairly rare for me to really love a movie without any reservations.
First: it’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that The Thin Red Line is now 12 years old. It’s little tidbits like this that remind that while I’m not yet old, I am getting older, slowly but surely. Jurassic Park was made in 1993, for crying out loud – that was SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO. Do you remember when it came out? It was kind of a sensation for its special effects, and rightly so, and in fact it holds up amazingly well today.
But Jurassic Park came out 17 years ago. 17 years. Most high schoolers today weren’t even born yet. Bill Clinton had just begun his presidency. I looked like this, and our dearly departed Bog looked like this:
But I digress. The point is, both of these movies are exceptional, and one of the reasons they each succeed so well is that they both are filled with real emotions that I, as a viewer, understand. You can feel real fear through the screen, real joy, real anger, and real pain. Someone who senses that the whole world has turned against him radiates a shaking, intense, primordial anger that envelops the entire scene. A young man with bullets flying inches above his head is so terrified that his brain is constantly on the verge of shutting itself off, and you wait, a nervous wreck, for that moment to come. A soldier, AWOL, hiding among a village of people in a strange land, paddles his canoe by some locals and grins ear to ear with the strangeness of it all, and it’s infectious – you can’t help but smile.
This, maybe more than anything, is what makes a movie great. It’s probably Film School 101 – make your audience care about your characters, and identify with them. Even the villains. Sometimes especially the villains. If your audience can not only identify with the characters and understand their actions, but can also experience the same emotion that a character is displaying, then I think you’ve succeeded.
With any film, as a viewer, there are three people involved in the experience of a character: you, the character, and the actor. When it’s only the character experiencing a certain emotion, it doesn’t work; if it’s clear the actor doesn’t care, you’re probably not going to either. Two of three can work. All three, of course, can be incredibly powerful.
So – this all got me thinking about how much of this applies to real life, and the conclusion I drew was this: one of the primary reasons that Jessica and I work so well, and likely a primary reason for any good relationship, is that ability to be tuned into the other person. She and I really cannot hide an emotion from each other – it’s just not possible. If she tries to pretend that she’s not frustrated with me, I can still feel it. When I try to pretend like nothing’s bugging me, I completely fail. We know what the other is feeling, and it doesn’t even really take much effort. And more than that, when she’s feeling something strongly, whether it be anger or sadness or joy or anything else, that same feeling usually creeps its way into me.
This is a fantastically long-winded and pretentious lead-in to the overall point of this silly Friday afternoon post, which is that tomorrow Jessica will be turning 28 – entering the approximately 2-month period wherein I am only one year older than her rather than two. Ages totally work that way, by the way. And though it’s a day early, I’d still like to wish her a happy birthday on this blog. Because after all, she’s the one I’m marrying, and plus she suggested I do this thing in the first place.
And of all the things that makes me love Jessica so much, the “I can feel what you’re feeling without even trying” thing we have is close to the top.
Happy birthday, baby.