Truth, Fiction, Poetry, Film

While I appreciate filmmaking as an art form, I’m usually way too busy reading books to check out a DVD. When I do pick one, it’s probably going to be either a documentary, or something based on a true story. This is primarily because such films make me want to learn more about the people involved, which sends me scurrying right back to good books.

Such a feedback loop was set in motion yet again when I sat down to watch The Great Debaters. As soon as Denzel Washington’s character came marching into his classroom, leaping on furniture and declaiming “I, Too, Sing America,” I had to find out more about Melvin B. Tolson, the poet and man of letters who led the Wiley College debate team to a national championship in 1935.  Happily, the Carnegie Library does stock Tolson’s poetry, including the complicated masterpiece Libretto for the Republic of Liberia, which is subdivided by sections named after the notes of the musical scale (do-re-mi, etc., ending once again with “do”).

book jacket

Naturally, learning so much cool stuff (and getting poked in the ribs now and again by Don and Amy) makes me want to watch more movies.  One of the books I’m currently reading, Deep Cinema, argues that watching a film can instigate an initiatory, life-changing experience, and provides a long list of films in the back that have the potential to do so. I find this intriguing, and have added a whole whack of DVDs, including Bertolucci’s The Conformist, to my list of films to watch.

Up to now, though, the closest thing I’ve had to a cinematic epiphany was the realization, after watching American Beauty, that I didn’t want to be the kind of person who worried overmuch about loved ones spilling beer on the couch. What’s your relationship to the movies? Is there one that sticks in your memory, serves as a turning point in your life, or maybe just makes you see the world a little bit differently?

–Leigh Anne


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4 responses to “Truth, Fiction, Poetry, Film

  1. Don

    Books, music, movies: is there anything else? Movies, like books and music, simply shape my life. Naming one is impossible: Brazil, Bladerunner, Wild Strawberries, Wings of Desire, Farewell My Concubine, the original King Kong … I could go on and on. In the powerful documentary department: Crumb.


  2. LAV

    You forgot art! Hee.

    Will definitely add the Crumb documentary to my list…and Across the Universe…and the 10th anniversary set of Sports Night, which I can’t believe we bought, and am SO happy about…

  3. Miranda

    I’m with you, documentaries hands down. Floored by two French films in the past month ( 1- Man on Wire and, 2- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), I purported to a more deliberate life. As Maude, from Harold and Maude, would say, “L- I-V- E. Live!”

  4. Hear hear, Miranda! Live, indeed.

    Thanks for the suggestions – they, too, go on the list!


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