Tomorrowland, skipping, and that time my daughter reminded me how to watch movies.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but at some point the way I watched movies changed. I have always liked analysing and discussing them. Turning them over and trying to figure out how and why they work. I always will. But I had stopped giving the film makers the benefit of the doubt. In trying to solve the story, I inhibited it. I didn’t allow the movie to sweep me up for my visit past its ethereal borders.
I wasn’t experiencing them properly.
Recently I took my young daughter to the cinema, and a combination of convenient timings and a female lead dictated our choice would be Tomorrowland. The story follows a teenage girl who comes across a pin which, when touched, transports her to a fantastical place of wonder and imagination – albeit briefly.
I wasn’t particularly excited, because the movie had been out long enough for me to witness it take a critical beating. And sure enough, it has plenty of opportunities for thirty four-year-old nit pickers like me to get involved. The internal analysis came thick and fast: why did the movie open this way? Was this bit recut to ease the exposition dump? I KNEW she was a (spoiler)! On and on and on.
But next to me, my daughter’s eyes were wider than saucepans. Her shoes discarded on the floor, she leaned against me, hugging my arm seemingly determined not to blink. As I mentally mulled the practicalities of the Eiffel Tower sequence, she giggled with joy. As I was trying to calculate how old Hugh Laurie’s character must be, she was thinking that SHE wanted to be an adventurous girl of science.
She hadn’t heard any reviews. She’d not seen any snarky tweets. The relationship was between her, and the movie alone.
As she kept turning her face up to mine, to share a smile for each delightful beat, I started to experience the movie on two levels. Mine: imagining the review I could write, point out all the ways in which the movie made a choice I didn’t like and how I would sum it up in a witty tweet. Hers: watching her new cinematic heroine getting pulled into world of jet packs, gravity-bending swimming pools and antique rocket ships. Being told that the world needs more dreamers – just like her.
I realised it: she’s watching the movie the way I used to. Putting herself in the hands of the storytellers and waiting to be entertained. WANTING to be entertained. As we left the cinema, her eyes sparkled at an idea we’d shared. What if, when she woke up in the morning, there was a TOMORROWLAND pin waiting at the end of the bed? She skipped at the thought (she LITERALLY skipped). I don’t skip after movies anymore.
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