April 1, 2008

Somewhere and Somewhen Else


Star Wars rocked my ten year old world. I can't even begin to describe the excitement of seeing Star Wars for the very first time. One of the things that made that movie such an amazing experience was the transitory nature of going to the movies in 1977. I have to remind my kids, one of whom is the same age I was when I first saw Star Wars, that back in the day when you saw a movie in a theater that was it. There was no DVD coming out dependably in 6 months. When it left the theater it was gone. So you watched movies differently back then. I think I was more alert than I am now. More anxious to notice every detail.

StarWarsMoviePoster1977.jpgI think what was so groundbreaking for me about this film was that it conceived of a world without us. Most science fiction or fantasy I had read up to this point projected either forward or backward with our own civilization being the grounding point. It was either in a distant or imagined future or past. But Star Wars was neither. It occurred in "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away."

In other words, from the opening words my mind was blown.

Star Wars is not, in the strictest sense, science fiction. It's fantasy dressed in science fiction garb. But what works in the story is that it transports the viewer into an entirely different world. It opens your mind to possibilities previously unimagined. And when you return to your own world you look at it differently.

What was your first encounter with Star Wars?

Movies that Changed my World

platos_cave_b.jpgToday I'm launching an occasional series about movies that changed the way I look at the world which I'm calling "World Shift." One of the things I love about movies is the ability to escape into another time and place and, occasionally, a moment of inspiration or clarity where things just click. Every so often, every couple of years or so, there's a movie that comes along that just really makes me reconsider how I perceive things.

In The Republic Plato uses an allegory of people trapped in a cave with a shadow play in front of them which they mistake for reality. They have to be freed from the illusion to climb out into the real world.

Ironically sometimes it takes me sitting in a darkened cave of a room with a shadow play of images before me to rethink and look anew at the real world around me.

Also, as I'm sure you'll find out, the Allegory of the Cave is a theme which is prominent in some of my favorite movies.

I hope you enjoy this series and feel free to share your own world shifting movie moments.