I’m 8 years old and I’m in love with a Princess. As she stares into the camera pleading for Bastian to save her, I stare back. Those lips. She’s literally perfect. As her palace begins to crumble, I feel her growing panic like it’s my own. It’s only a movie. It’s not real. It’s only a movie. She screams out, “Call my name!” Bastian can’t imagine that one little boy could be that important. My heart hammers inside my chest. As the storm (and the music) climax, she looks into my eyes. “Bastian pleeeeeease. Save us!!” But I have to keep my feet on the ground. A boulder flies in and strikes, nearly tearing the palace in half. COME ON BASTIAN!!!! – It’s now me that’s screaming – WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!!! I’m a nervous wreck. I feel sick. All of sudden Bastian stands up. “All right, I’ll do it, I’ll save you. I will do what I dream!” Throwing off his blanket, Bastian runs toward the storm and with rain thundering all around, he leans out the window and screams into the night. The screen turns to black.
Movies speak to me more powerfully than anything else As an eight-year-old boy, I was convinced the Princess was talking to me. In love with me. While delivering humanity’s most important message. Although completely lost on me at the time, this never-ending truth remains more relevant than ever before. Without fantasy and the ability to create new stories, we become overwhelmed by The Nothing. The Darkness. The Emptiness of human existence. And our lives turn to black. And white.
Joseph Campbell reminded us that myths exist, “to transform our consciousness.” I couldn’t agree more. Stories have always been our best method for sharing Truth. From tales spoken around the fire to cave paintings to Renaissance paintings to the printed page and now with the silver screen, we have always communicated our best truths through fiction. When we empathize with a character, we are able to connect and feel their pain. Although we know they aren’t real, we find ourselves thinking about them. Feeling for them. Living better lives because of them. Tony Soprano. Don Draper. Walter White. Daenerys Targaryen. These great characters live long after their series isn’t renewed because, through their flawed lives, they show us how to live and most importantly, how not to live.
Tonight’s Oscars celebrate those stories that stood out among the rest (as voted on by the Academy). 1917. Marriage Story. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Little Women. Parasite. The best stories don’t tell us what to do or who to be. They show us. Through inspired writing, direction, acting, cinematography, editing, and lighting, we are invited to enter a world. Join with a life. Look in the mirror. When we do, we see a reflection of ourselves and we grimace. And laugh. And cry. We are reminded of our imperfections and are inspired to do better. Live better. Be better.
When this transformation of consciousness occurs, a beautiful thing happens. People begin to enter our world. Join with our life. Use us as a mirror. And this never-ending shared story of humanity continues.
Long after the credits roll.