Happy Endings

In Henry Jaglom's movie "Someone to Love" Orson Welles explains to the camera that the way to have a happy ending is to stop your movie before the story comes to an end.

But you can't yell "cut" in real life. A perfect scene is marred when someone goes too far and says more than they should. There's too much time to fill that wouldn't be shown in the movie version. You get on the bus and greet the driver and he responds with something witty and poignant and your day is off to a great start. But we don't dissolve to you entering your office building and exchanging pleasantries with the receptionist. No, in real life you have to sit through the bus ride. Get off the bus, trudge the few blocks to your building, wait for the elevator and ride it up with a handful of people, none of whom are getting off at your floor.

But a map is useless if it is only available at the same size and level of detail of what it represents. I need a map that condenses large areas onto a sheet of paper or a computer screen that I can comprehend at once. It gives me perspective. It let's me know that just out of my vision in the real world is the street I'm looking for.

And so the movies of my life that replay in my head do condense time. They don't replay my twenty minutes on the bus reading the paper and not saying much at all to the people around me. The scenes tend to end while something is going on and don't just fade away into nothingness. I don't remember editing them and yet when they play back they are edited. I'm sure they are filtered as well. I don't remember consciously selecting a lens to use for each scene, but I must have.

Chris explains to me the Japanese notion of "mono no aware". This is, as I understand it, a notion of sensitivity to things that is tied up in a recognition of the essential impact of impermanence.

A flower is beautiful but there is a sadness in its beauty because it won't last. The flip side is that this lack of permanence makes the flower more valuable because its beauty will not last.

You take time to enjoy that moment with the bus driver or exchange with the receptionist. Those special moments are fleeting. You pause when the sky is just right. You close your eyes and slowly inhale when the lilacs are in bloom.

To have a happy ending, our movie would end before the lilacs wilt and drop from the trees. But the fact that the movie will soon come to an end makes us both value the moments shown in the movie more and makes us sad for the fact that they will soon be gone.

Published in: on May 11, 2006 at 12:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

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