That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.
And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.
Today’s clip comes from the sirius scene in Truman Show:
What can we learn?
Keep them happy and ignorant. Truman literally lives in a constructed reality. His life is broadcast around the clock to billions of people across the globe. But once he gains sufficient awareness of his condition, the movie starts to take a strangely psychological, even political turn. Truman is waking up and stumbling towards salvation. Hence the falling light and shattered glass. Symbolically, it couldn’t be more appropriate. It’s a reminder of how the powers that be will always try keep us small, scared and dreamless; dissuading our sense of exploration, preventing us from discovering our false realities. Because the last thing they want is for us to activate our imaginations. To become suspicious of our perceived reality. Fortunately, humans created art to combat this battle. To embark on a quest to discover the truth about our lives. To give ourselves a slant on the game that’s being played on us. Truman represents an awakening that’s possible in every one of us. Whom are you allowing to soften the fibers of your spirit?
Readiness to wreck everything. Truman is stepping into a more mature and authentic identity. Every scene becomes a chisel with which he chips away at the sculpture inside the stone. And by the time he reaches the end of the known world, you can’t help but cheer him on. It’s a powerful meditation for artists undergoing the process of reinvention. But it’s also a warning about the slings and arrows that accompany it. Truman may be waking up to what’s true about himself, but not everybody wants him to be successful. They’re too invested in keeping him where he is. They want him to remain frozen in the position they met him in. That’s why they feel disenfranchised by his awakening. And so, as they feel the foreign nature of his behavior, they start to attack like white blood cells fighting an infection. Funny how reinvention elicits that reaction from people. But it’s human nature. Other people have no incentive to see you change. And once you do, they almost don’t even know how to relate to you anymore. Who is resisting your journey to explore new ways of being an artist?
Try thinking your own thoughts. Peter Weir famously said that The Truman Show was a dangerous film to make because it couldn’t actually happen. Little did he know, his movie was disturbingly prophetic. It premiered in the late nineties, when reality television was on the rise. And yet, two decades later, the film doesn’t seem like science fiction at all. It could just as easily be another reality show we fetishize. But what bothers me the most is, television is the polar opposite of creativity. It’s leading someone else’s life for a short period of time. And yet, millions people live this way. They spend thirty hours a week thinking other people’s thoughts, walking through someone else’s museum. Meanwhile, recent research reports that the number of non book readers has nearly tripled since the late seventies. This isn’t good for our brains. My mentor once said that the purpose of books was to trap your mind into doing its own thinking. But nobody seems to care anymore. Too many shows in the queue. And my fear is that we’ve literally become zombies. We’ve forgotten how to think our own thoughts. Are you joining the playing field of creation or the smorgasbord of consumption?
What’s your favorite moment of conception?