Socrates is quoted as saying “The unexamined life is not worth living.” This worthy saying is repeated in the wonderful motion picture “A Love Song For Bobby Long” starring John Travolta, Gabriel Macht and Scarlett Johansson. In contemplating the film I think of the “slice of life,” Bobby Long gives as an example of how such works serve as a mirror for our own lives. The characters show us the bittersweet drama of three nearly lost souls working through their complex relationships to find a way back to the light.
Though never taking away from the value of books in this regard, I have to admit that such films are at least a close second.
It is wonderful how films that truly mirror life never bore us, quite the contrary, like perfect diamonds they give us such multi-faceted angles of approach that we could admire them daily and never tire of their almost “infinite variety.”
Characters in films like this become like old friends, lovable for all their quirky ways as well as their moments of inspiration and revelation. We love to hear their message and always feel richer for having partaken.
Some that I include in my most treasured list are, “The Big Chill,” “The assassination of Jesse James by the Coward, Robert Ford,” “In Country,” “Witness,” “Young Guns,” and a few others all of which inspire quotable quotes that last us for years. (Bobby Long is particularly rich in such quotes as the main characters, former college teachers, use literary ones in their regular conversation as a continuing way of hammering their points home.)
So art mirrors life and life mirrors art and aren’t we glad to sharpen our understanding of this, rather than have that understanding dulled? Yes this kind of art when truly examined and appreciated becomes one of our surest guards against the “Dumbing down” phenomenon, so prevalent in modern life. The sharper we keep ourselves in this world the less likely we are to become robotic victims of any creeping totalitarianism which might threaten to numb us into submission.
I find that an empowering thought. How about you? “Yes,” “Well that makes two of us…don’t tell….” (You remembered it, Emily Dickinson !)
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