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There is one movie I will adore for all time. In fact there is much more than one I adore. I’m a screenwriter (technically aspiring) and I’ve seen a lot of movies. Truly I can’t tell whether I adore the film I speak of more than the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Alien, Arrival, or any number of other films I love. A lot of which I’ll get to at some point on this blog. Hell, all of the ones listed.
But… who cares if I adore this film or that film more. What is most definitely true is the film I am talking about here has moved me, inspired me, and, simply put, influenced my philosophy on life and it’s meaning. Can you guess what it is? I promise I will get to how beauty can save the world, but humor me. Guess.
You already know it was a flop. It was based on a novel of the same name. It is ambitious as hell. Two of the three directors are transgender. Oh, and America’s dad is in the starring role.
The film… Cloud Atlas.
I’ve never seen a movie like it. I have forgotten the actual experience of smoking weed before seeing the movie. Since having seen it sober quite a few times to make sure that I love it. Yet I’ll never forget the experience of watching the movie for the first time. I was enthralled right away. That is after the very first, indecipherable (on first viewing), scene.
You see the film isn’t very accessible to every viewing audience. The film is long, on first viewing the editing seems strange for a while, it’s subject matter to some is… controversial (which leaves me in a weird place when I’m touting a film that includes yellow face, yet the audience that would be less likely to care about that is who might find the film controversial).
In fact, as an example of it’s inaccessible nature one of my favorite things to say to my sister in texts is the quote “true, true.” The dialogue from the storyline (six count ’em six storylines edited together) which the quote comes is hard to understand and can sound funny to many. Hell I just put the quotation of “true, true” in the last sentence because I find it funny as hell and yet if you haven’t seen the movie you’re likely looking at your screen of choice going what?
What I’m trying to get at is that Cloud Atlas wasn’t popular critically or commercially. So why oh why am I writing this blog post with a title that says the film is the most influential flop of all time?
The truth is, well funny enough, in the title of the post. The film Cloud Atlas is the most influential flop of all time because without seeing it I would not understand the truth of the matter that beauty can save the world.
“Okay…” you say as you have now decided to close this tab or window because the blogger just told you that his opinion on whether beauty can save the world or not makes Cloud Atlas a super important movie. As if my opinion is of that much importance.
Just wait a minute. I can actually prove this. If you don’t believe me I’ll give you the kinda, sorta, easy way out. Just watch this (preferably, watch the film Cloud Atlas first):
For those of you still reading remember that this video is the basis for me understanding that beauty can save the world.
“Hey! But you said…”
I know. I know. I told you that the movie Cloud Atlas, the most influential flop of all time, is the reason I understand that beauty can save the world, and it is. In a sense.
I said that after viewing Cloud Atlas my philosophies on life and its meaning were altered. Those philosophies which hold dear to me still and the fact I love the film Cloud Atlas led me to view the video above when I came across it on youtube. Viewing that video led me to my understanding of how beauty can save the world. I may hold all these philosophies dear to me, but the first I learned came from seeing Cloud Atlas.
“While my extensive experience as a [blogger] has led me to a disdain for flashbacks and flash forwards and all such tricksy gimmicks I believe if you, dear reader, can extend your patience just a moment [longer] you will find there is a method to my madness” (Timothy Cavendish, Cloud Atlas).
In the spring semester of my years at a community college here in Illinois I began a philosophy 101 course. Still fresh in my mind was my love for the film Cloud Atlas and the ideas present in it. The idea that was most interesting to me was how events over the course of time influenced each other. More specifically small things that would seem innocuous to many. This idea I find kind of similar to the butterfly effect in some manner of speaking.
Well, during my time in philosophy 101 I was tasked with writing a paper talking about the philosophies of certain past philosophers. The philosophers I chose? Tolstoy and Epicurus.
While much of the paper I wrote I do not remember I do remember it had to do with me breaking away from my faith and how I began to fear death after that. The idea that there was nothing after death, as it is scary to many, was fear inducing to me. The philosophy of Epicurus helped me there in the idea that there is nothing when we die. We can neither feel anything emotionally or physically when we are dead so what is there to fear once death comes. I do not know how that got me to the point I later came to in the paper about our meaning in life (I assume the philosophy of Tolstoy was involved), but I do remember that philosophy.
The idea that maybe our purpose in life is to influence other people in any way we can. The idea being that any influence you have on another person can have a positive impact on humanity’s future. You can raise a child and one day they may do something great for humanity, you can simply smile at somebody walking down the street and if they were depressed that may keep them from committing suicide. Which may not sound like much, but think of all the other people in their life who would be impacted by their suicide, let alone the fact the person who commits that act may have been capable of something great for themselves and humanity.
Now, although we of course would like to have do something positive for other people throughout the world there is also the possibility that we have a bad day and do something that leaves others dealing with our negative actions. We should not be too fearful of that though because sometimes the negative actions we take can have a positive outcome in how somebody who had to deal with those actions reacts to them. For example someone who acted like a bully in school may feel terrible about their actions and that may lead them to try and do well for others later on in their life. Yet the person who was bullied could in fact do something that is good for themselves and others in the world because of the negative actions taken against them when they were in school.
Of course these negative things are not what we want to do to each other, but they are a fact of life in some sense. All over the world people are interacting each day over the internet, less likely right now in the streets, but hopefully soon enough we will be doing that more often. Billions of people can be impacting others and therefore leaving a positive impact on humanity as a whole for it’s future.
Which leads me to how beauty can save the world.
You may think by what I have just said the idea is that doing things that are beautiful for each other will further impact the world in a wonderful way and thus beauty can save the world. While that would be wonderful in theory you can look at the world around you and see how many terrible things are happening all around us. What I truly am going to say about how beauty can save the world starts with love.
“Huh” you say. “Didn’t you just say you weren’t talking about everyone doing beautiful and lovely things for each other?” Yes I did say that and what you may be thinking when I bring up love is different than the intent I have when I bring it up.
What I mean is that love may evolutionarily be something that was only intended to help us to make, rear, and protect children and the tribe around us. Evolutionarily speaking. Yet love has become so much more to us in how we have romanticized it and how we look at it today. Love no longer is just what it may have started out as.
Furthermore we aspire to this new idea of love that we have come up with and we, in some ways it seems to me, are succeeding in what we are aspiring to. Thus the beautiful things we aspire to in the world can come true even if they are not the fact of the matter right now.
Something else I tend to believe is that all people believe they are doing what is right and good for the world and the people around them. It may fall apart here to you and that is where I would love interaction on this idea, but say what I’m saying is true. Wouldn’t that mean, with the ideas that I have presented being true, what actually is good and right will eventually win out.
Thus the idea is that beauty can save the world. I will not say that it will. I like to think of myself as a realist (even if this idea is very utopian). Yet the fact that it can possibly be the case is a beautiful thought to me indeed. And…
If what we aspire to is beautiful, right, good, true, and just then maybe, just maybe, one day all of us will be able to live in a world where all of those virtuous things we believe in will be what we have. What we share in a world that is beautiful, right, good, true, and just.
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