Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sorry About The Depressing Death March

It's funny you should mention movies, because Christmas is a real movie time of year for me. I watch old movies that I've loved from the past - My Demon Lover, Return To Oz, Aliens, Terminator. I watch new movies with varying degrees of success - Avatar, The Girl Who Played With Fire, A-Team.

And I'm sad to say they make my Christmas great. Of course, other things do, too. The hubster, my family, great food, my brother saying something silly, playing games, giving gifts.

But a big part of making me happy? Movies. Though that's not exclusive to Christmas, when I really think about it. Movies have informed my life, have created happiness in it when there was none, have taken me away when I needed it, have given me pleasure when I desperately wanted it - in the same way writing does.

Though movies are the very thing that inspire my stories, so maybe the movies came first. I always remember how much I adored Return To Oz as a child, and then later in life hunting and hunting for a copy. How carelessly I discarded that video tape at age ten, never thinking I'd crave that feeling of being a child filled with longing and wonder again. I craved it so much, I hunted through seventeen video stores, all over the internet, I scoured the TV guides looking for it to appear.

And I think I did it because to me, Return To Oz represents everything that The Wizard of Oz should really say. Because WHY in GOD'S name would Dorothy want to RETURN TO KANSAS? Depression era Kansas, no less. Where everything is grey and dusty and dead, and people you know. Died of starvation.

In Oz, even when everything is falling apart, all is wonderment. Everything is fantastical, and the whole world spreads out beneath your feet. How I wanted to be THAT Dorothy - the one who goes mad with wanting to go back there. How I wrote my fingers bloody with my own story of that dream - of longing to be somewhere else, anywhere else but this grey, dismal, disappointing place. Even half destroyed and ruined by evil witches and Nome Kings, Oz seemed ten times better than here.

Most movies do. I suppose that's the point, really. Nobody wants to watch a movie to be transported to a dry, grey, dull place, where nothing happens and everything is endlessly monotonous. Even movies by Lars Von Trier and Mike Leigh feature things that happen, and in amongst the grey there are sparks of wonderful that will last forever, because the movie never changes. You don't have to go on and on into another grinding year of awful. And even if you do, you can imagine forever that the edges around the movie - the things that you didn't get to see because it ended - make things better.

And if this post seems depressing, dearest reader (if you're out there), know this: whatever grey awful thing happens in my life, whatever depressing death march I have to endure, at least I have movies to make it better.


  1. Hi Charlotte,

    I empathise with this completely. Movies are better than life and also make my life better.

    Movies map the major milestones of my life.

    I didn't find this post at all depressing. It's nice to know that someone else out there feels this way.

  2. Hello, Charlotte,

    Interesting post. You reminded me of an excellent movie I saw recently, called "Winter's Bone". It's set somewhere in the Appalachians, I think - the people are basically hillbillies, living in shacks surrounded by derelict cars, or mobile homes. Every one is suspicious of everyone else. The story takes place during the winter, and the landscape is incredibly bleak and depressing.

    At the same time, the movie is uplifting because of the pure grit of the main character, a 17 year old named Rae. She's trying to prove that her father (who put their house and land up as bail security and then disappeared) has been killed so that her family doesn't lose everything they own. She gets stonewalled. She gets beaten up for asking too many questions. And yet, the movie itself is not depressing, because her spirit shines through.

    I think I have to see "Return to Oz". Because I agree, why would Dorothy really want to live in Kansas?


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  4. I agree. Why ever return to Kansas? (That motion picture version of Kansas, of course. I lived in Oklahoma, which is much like Kansas, and it remains one of my favorite places that we lived.)

    Passover wouldn't be Passover (we don't do Easter) without watching The Ten Commandments. It's so camp that we can't resist it. We pose like the chicks dramatically watching the Red Sea part. We do Yul Brynner quotes with our fists on our hips. We mock miscast actors by inserting their dialog from other movies. I snuggle next to R and ask if my hair smells like myrrh or sheep dip. So it's kind of like Rocky Horror, but Old Testament style.


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