how to watch a movie
“So, wait. What? Who is that guy, and why is doing that?” I asked my daughters who were watching a movie, comfortably draped over the couch in positions that only a 12 year old and 15 year old could manage, and many a yoga master would envy. (I always wondered how my youngest could watch movies upside down for hours, with her legs draped over the back of the couch, her head dangling off of the seat, sometimes even eating popcorn.) They sighed, and patiently explained the scene to me, knowing full well I’d be asking them for further clarification fifteen minutes later.
This is the way that I often watched movies with my daughters when they were in their early teens: catching a glimpse of a scene as I walked through the room with a basket of laundry, or listening to the audio from the kitchen without seeing essential visuals to explain the plot. And, frankly, if I could sit still long enough to watch the whole movie with them while draped on the couch, I still asked my daughters for clarification. As an aside, let me just say that I’m a graduate of UCLA, with a degree in English Literature, and studied Philosophy there for three years as well. I’ve read some of the toughest literary works and philosophical arguments ever written, yet I couldn’t grasp the storyline of a movie. Of course, this was because my mind would wander. Someone would do something to someone in the movie, and I would suddenly be off chasing rabbits in my mind, pondering the whys, hows, wherefores, and spiritual ramifications of their actions, and would miss the whole plot and point of the scene.
Decades later, I have found that I still do the same thing. I watch Hallmark romance movies almost daily. I live alone, so it’s kind of like background noise to keep me company while I cook too much food, and clean the house. I love the fact that the ending of each Hallmark movie is predictable, and everyone will live happily ever after.
Well, this past week I was incapacitated for several days by sudden, excruciating, neck and back pain. I was now confined to bed, or sitting on the couch watching Hallmark movies, some of which I had “seen” possibly 15 times or more. However, as I watched one of these movies, I found that I was absolutely captivated by the plot, and surprised at how well written and acted it was. Yes, the outcome of these movies is predictable. (Spoiler alert! Boy gets girl. Girl gets boy. And, more recently, in some movies, boy gets boy, and girl gets girl. They do the awkward stage kiss at the end, and we assume that they live happily ever after as the credits roll.)
But, as I was watching that movie without chasing rabbits, I began to realize that I had missed so many bits and pieces of what I assumed was a cookie cutter scenario, because I was always moving too fast to enjoy the journey. I had missed whole scenes of the movie, which added a unique depth to the plot, even after having “watched” the movie 15 times or more.
It took excruciating muscle spasms and tightness to stop me in my tracks and remind me: “Hey, Summer! Slow down! Enjoy the journey!” I had to be incapacitated to learn that I was missing so much by moving too fast, trying to get everything done on my “to do” list (that no one really cared about except me).
Shakespeare wrote, "All the world's a stage, and we are just players in it." Sometimes each day seems to be another predictable plot, one predictable scene blending into the next one. But now, I think I'll take my direction from my youngest daughter, and slow down, drape myself over the couch, and watch the world upside down, and perhaps gain a whole new perspective, and deeper understanding of this fascinating movie called Life.
Lights! Camera! Action!
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