Monday, September 19, 2011

Stories, movies, and dissatisfaction

Lately I've been thinking about something that I hadn't really thought about: dissatisfying art.

Dissatisfaction is a horrible feeling to get when encountering a work of art. I didn't realize how bad it was until recently when three different films left me so upset with dissatisfaction I almost gave up on movies. Whether it's unresolved issues, a missing scene, a missing character, a "wrong" resolution, a "happy" or a "bad" or an "unbelievable" ending, I just feel so let down.

Of course there is the issue of expectations. Perhaps I just expect too much. Perhaps as an American I expect a happy ending answer. ;-) Perhaps as a Christian I expect depth. Perhaps as a lit major and a lover of movies, I've just seen and read so many great masterpieces that I'm always comparing lesser films to great ones. But I gotta say that I do appreciate imperfect movies. After all, minor films can satisfy.

One of the first instances of dissatisfaction I remember is LadyHawke. Overall, it was such a lovely movie. But there was just something lacking in it for me. Okay, so I sit around remaking movies in my mind. But really, there was something just not quite deep enough, not quite painful enough,not quite sweet enough. An acquaintance loved it and got really angry when it was discussed. I think she "supplied" with her imagination what the film lacked. A lot of books and films depend on the artistic imagination of the viewer and don't do the work of supplying (or putting into the work) what really should be there.

Another instance of dissatisfaction was Lord of the Rings. Sorry but the whole series left me cold. And it's not because there weren't any black folks in the movie either. (Although that didn't help.) There was just something very distancing about it and I didn't feel any of the emotions. There was no scene there that pulled me in. Could be the director, could be the acting. Could be me. ;-) I'll admit it... it might be me. Maybe I just need emotional intensity that's ya know...really intense.

I'm hoping my books don't dissatisfy. Who knows?


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