Saturday, 1 January 2011

Sad is happy for deep people

I recently re-watched "Bridge to Terabithia" and as I'm pretty sure I didn't bawl my eyes out last time, it got me thinking: how we experience a film or book* isn't just to do with the quality of the acting and plot but also what we know, believe and experience in real life. I mean, how else can you read the same book or watch the same film twice but respond totally differently the second time? How else is it possible for two people to read the same book, watch the same film or watch the same TV series** and react in totally different ways? Even if they're sitting next to each other in the same cinema screen you can end up with one crying their eyes out while the other could be wondering what the fuss is about.

Sure, some of this is to do with personality and while our genes may cause us to tend slightly more to one disposition, so much of our personality is shaped by our experiences, beliefs and our reactions. Of course, those two can, in turn, be pinned on other experiences and events but that just takes us into a paradox and arguments about free will that I'm sure scientists will be trying to unravel for many more years to come.

As I think back at films, books or TV episodes I've cried at (or nearly cried at as I'm not one for crying at everything,) they're not all necessarily typically sad and the ones that are, I'm not necessarily crying at the thing on the screen but because of the very real g it reminds me of. I'm crying because it reminds me of something I deeply miss, something I strongly hope doesn't happen to me, something I long for or someone I've lost. How strongly we respond partly depends on how deeply absorbed in the fictional world we are and partly how deep the feelings go. we may have had a loved one die or had our heart broken and those emotional strings have been tugged, pulling on something deep inside while others may not have experienced the same thing, causing mere scratches on the surface.

How absorbed we get in a film, book or TV series is a funny thing. While a lot of it depends where we are - alone, with family, friends or strangers - and when we are - late at night, lunchtime, an anniversary or something happy or sad - there is also some sort of magic that plays part. A sort of magic that means so many teenage girls (including me) get absorbed by Twilight*** for a bit, a sort of magic that leads to long debates over the Doctor Who Christmas special**, the sort of magic that causes fans like those at Comic-Con, Wrockstock, Vidcon, of followers and writers of trock and wrock and people who will queue for hours to meet actors, authors, TV show creators, script writers, directors and to get into exhibitions. There is that something, that spark that no on can quite explain, that can cause one person to love a film, book or show, to respond in one way, while another can hate it and get nothing out of it.

Now, of course, a lot of that applies to first time views. A lot of that is to do with different people responding differently but what about when it is one person? Why can one person react one way the first time and then respond another way the second time round. how comes I got absorbed into Twilight the first time round but now think it's rubbish? How comes I cried so hard the second time I watched "Bridge to Terabithia" the second time watching but barely shed a tear the first? People change. New things are discovered, new things are experienced, different things and parts of us are lost or broken, faults can be revealed. Over time that unexplainable magic can be moulded, built up or torn down.

Human emotions are such a complex thing. Even beginning to understand them is almost impossible and in some ways, not understanding is probably better. While sometimes the 'behind the scenes' can deepen out love and appreciation and enhance the magic, other times it's best not to know.

I'll leave you with this quote from Inkspell that sums up what could have been a whole extra paragraph quite well:

" 'Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times?' Mo had said when, on Meggie's last birthday, they were looking at all her dear old books again. 'A if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells...and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower...both strange and familiar.'" 
  - Inkspell, Chapter 5 - Cornelia Funke


*side note: I've only just discovered "Bridge to Terabithia is also a novel! Now I need to find time to read that!
**here I was particularly thinking of Doctor Who. My friend prompted a long discussion over the pros and cons of Moffat, Daleks, Martha, 10 v 11 etc on facebook which currently stands at 183 comments.
***may I just say that magic has gone and I have realised the folly of my Twilight-loving ways. Although the books do still sit on my shelf.


·         Latest book read: Still reading "Friends Like These" I should really finish it.
·         Latest film/TV/ watched: Still the midnight countdown on BBC1 last night but I'm just about to watch Human Nature and The Family of Blood
·         Latest music listened to: Chocolate by Snow Patrol (still)!
·         Latest food/sweets/whatever eaten: A chocolate biscuit at the end of lunch
·         Programs and web pages currently open:
Alien PresidentSnails: Brothers in shellsCylinder and MiserableFort ParadoxThe application page for a Doctor Who exhibition pilot, Matt's Blog, (these are my current tabs that always stay open btw), Blogger in draft: new post, Windows Live Mail


  1. good grief, you're on two already? and the year's only 16 hours old... i have a feeling i might not win this 8p

  2. However, I highly doubt I'll keep up this pace!

  3. i love that quote! you have read it to me before, that alone is enough to make me want to read it :D BTW HUNGER GAMES sear god you have to read it! I bought it with out a clue to its contents purely on the trust i have for the youtube nerds. I'm sincerely glad i did! :D :)