Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Faith (noun)

1. complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

2. strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

“Film”… for 100 years the reigning heavyweight champ of storytelling. This was not always so.

The best of film touches on our primal fears and greatest victories. We are omnipresent, observing our favorite actors charging across megaplexes, televisions and cellphones. Looking down into their little worlds of make-believe sets and CGI co-stars. Watching their struggles and dreams from afar.

And if the film is good, really cinema-good, we find ourselves inside these characters. Inside their heads and stories as our cinematic avatars span all times, from ancient dramas to future star worlds, and life’s great conquests repeat.

And in the best of these… “faith” is rewarded.

In one’s self. One’s mission. One’s team. The first definition.

As our maze-bound doubles confront impossible odds and unbeatable foes, we cheer them on, saving the universe, reaching for glory, winning the war, rescuing the damsel and saving the universe. Again. And again…

Entertaining, sometimes. Profitable, hopefully. This is a business after all.

But with interchangeable stories and plots we saw last week, it’s no wonder they are dissolved and forgotten like after dinner mints by the time we reach the car.

Faith (noun)

2. strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

The second definition and the real question here. Can faith of a “spiritual” nature be captured on film?

A question too big to know. Films too pretentious to construct. As pretentious as this article perhaps, for they are unhip. Unmarketable. Flyover stuff at best and certainly not cinema.

Most in power turn away at the thought of making them. And those brave souls who would are soon too burdened and scared to try; life is short and so are careers.

But we can make them. And should try, as God knows this world could use them. And others have somehow. Others have. They turned from the formulas and certain box office with a small spark and wondered how.

And that spark caught fire when they realized the way lies not in them, but in what stories they chose to tell.

Old stories. Stories that can be cloaked in modern dress and times, can have heroes and dragons and demons, but these are not popcorn fluff designed to open big and sell laser toys. These are deeper stories that existed before books or film and invoke a sense of the miraculous. Even God.

Stories that… fictional or true, were once only whispered. Then passed down. Then written down. And now occasionally filmed.

They are most definitely not stories centered on winning the day or the race or the girl, but of initiation and transformation.

Of trial by fire.

Of facing one’s shadow.

Of dying for something greater. And rising anew.

Of forgiving.

And recognizing the grace of life. And letting go to it.

And becoming part of it.

And God among us…

Stories most find too afraid to tell. But the irony is they are the only stories worth telling for we all seek transformation.

And they are the way we’ve always learned to reach higher. To fly. And heal.

And the thing that invokes the greatest fear is the underlying question inside these stories. A question that harkens back to the second definition and a purpose that innately draws us to hear and read and see them again and again and again.

A bigger purpose and question outside of all cinema. All books.

A question lurking deep inside these stories. The way they’ve always made us overcome. Demanded we look to our better selves. To the heavens.

With their feeling of wholeness. And returning home.

And our deepest desire to be good and true.

And end these mortal travails.

And eventually we understand the question and ask whence these stories came. And realize… why.

And so we must consider well the stories we choose to tell.

Paul Aiello wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay for the film “Risen”.

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