Saturday, April 23, 2016

When Movies Are Your Salvation (or: Emphasizing with The Wolfpack)

Just a heads up before we start this post: If you are looking for true, eternal salvation, I cannot stress how important it is to receive Jesus Christ in your heart as your Lord and Savior!  I know what the title of this blog is and I don't want to get all religious on my readers, but the following discussion is a different kind of salvation we are discussing, and I have never for a moment believed that anything on this Earth can truly fulfill people the way they want to be filled.  For me Jesus has always been my main salvation over every aspect of my life.  Movies are also my salvation... they just are to a lesser extent.  With that said, on with the show...

I saw a movie last year called "The Wolfpack" which was a documentary about six brothers who spent all day watching movies and recreating them in their apartment.  They did this because they were not allowed to leave and go outside.  The only person who had a key to door was their father.  Not even their mother was allowed to leave the "sanctuary" of the small apartment complex.  These brothers (and their sister who strangely gets sidestepped in this whole story) were essentially prisoners in their own home.  Cut off from the outside world.  The only thing they had unlimited access to were movies.  For these boys, movies became their salvation; their only real window to the outside world.  I did write a review for this movie, but I never published it.  I still have it in a Dropbox folder, but chances are it is one of those reviews that will just never see the light of day.  Mainly because the review isn't good.

I tried over and over to make it worth reading, but it just didn't work at the end of the day.  The strange thing about this is that this seemed like a movie I was born to review.  Because I could relate to the idea of movies being a personal salvation and window to the open world more than most.  Granted, my childhood was very different from these boys.  My parents didn't lock me or my brother up in our house and forbid us to go outside.  Movies weren't unrestricted because I couldn't watch a PG-rated film until I was at least eight.  And unlike these boys, I did have friends growing up.  Yet as I watched this documentary I couldn't help but feel a special connection with their love of movies.  I feel that when they talk about how much movies saved their lives I could nod and think "yeah, they saved my life too." How can this be?  How can someone in my position think such a thing?  Because, whether we want to admit it or not, movies have the power to save anyone.

I even believe that movies have saved everyone to a certain extent.  The best movies are the ones that give the audience a chance to walk in someone else's shoes for a day.  For these brothers, this was a valuable thing as they weren't allowed to leave their own home.  For me, I was also in a prison, but it was more of a prison of the mind.  As someone with Asperger's Syndrome (a mild form of Autism) I view the world with, let's say... filtered lens.  There were a lot of things about people, emotions, and actions that I just did not understand.  To this day there are many things I still don't understand.  My parents (God bless them) did the best they could to teach me how things work, but they didn't think like me.  No one in my life did.  For the first six or seven years of my life I remember waking up just hating my life because I didn't understand people.  Even the people I considered my friends (some of who I consider friends to this day) seemed strangely distant and aloof.

In "The Wolfpack" the brothers comment that movies were like a window to the outside world.  They allowed them to make their own world in their head.  I bring this up because I sort of believe this is what movies were (and are) to me.  A window.  A visual representation of feelings, emotions, and world situations presented to me in a way I could understand in my own head.  Now, I do want to point out that there is a danger in this.  People who are mentally unstable, depressed beyond reason, or have the most shaky of relationships can experience movies in the same way and take away all the wrong things from them.  They aren't able to separate fantasy from reality.  Movies become reality.  And that reality is fractured and damaging, and it leads these people to sometimes do some very scary and dangerous things.  These are the people who go into midnight screenings of Batman and shoot innocent people because they think they are the Joker.  For people who can tell the difference between movies and real life this world within their head can be a gift.

The Wolfpack - for how horrible their childhood was - did provide loving parental figures, strong bonds between the brothers, and a sense to know that movies were fiction.  Those movies still provided a glimpse to the outside world though.  They did give them a chance to understand how life worked a little better.  Movies did that for me as well.  I believe I learned more about how the world works than I ever learned in school.  I learned more about how people feel from movies than any phychologist could tell me.  Some people laugh when I tell them this, but if movies weren't so influential to how people experienced the world, I sense the art would have died off a long time ago.  It is precisely because movies have the ability to teach us, mold us, and help us feel things that it is the biggest form of entertainment in the world today.

For these boys movies were a salvation that few people could possibly understand.  It makes sense that they would like to get involved in the business that gave them their only window to the outside world.  Even though my circumstances are different I largely feel the same way.  That's why I write about film.  I don't have the talent to make movies, but I have the capacity to understand them.  To understand them is to understand life a little better as well.  That is why I do what I do.  You can follow up on where The Wolfpack is now thanks to a "20/20" special on ABC.  Whatever direction theirs lives take I wish them the best of luck.  If any of them are reading this and ever want to discuss movies, my contact information is readily available on this site.


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