Saturday, December 25

A Series of Unfortunate Events

A disclaimer: I have not read these books, and so cannot comment on them. My comments are restricted to the film.

My family went to see A Series of Unfortunate Events tonight(hereafter called ASUE). I must confess I was extremely bored by the film. It was visually fascinating, but managed to remain mind-numbing. Why?

Evil triumphing over good isnot so much sad as it is boring. The story seems to show that hard work, ingenuity, and goodness don't really serve any purpose, and can be trumped by evil or sheer randomness. A little of that in a story is good, reflects some parts of reality, and imparts pathos. But a storyline consisting of nothing else is a tremendously dull story.

One of the most notable things I felt during ASUE was a feeling of profound apathy during the more "heroic" parts: you knew that it was all going to turn out badly, and so you no longer cared how brave or creative the Baudlaire orphans were. Even at the end of the movie, when the viewer is somewhat assured of a happy ending, the viewer no longer believes it, or even cares.

A story that inspires only apathy towards heroism, nobility, and courage is a bad story, and the better is is in technique--ASUE is visually delightful--the worse it is.

ASUE is supposed to be funny, and sometimes it is, but the humor seems to me to be misdirected. Again, we are already trained to laugh at most virtues; do we really need more encouragement to do so?

Do we now prefer unhappiness to happiness? Do we find joy too difficult to believe? Do we really think the universe to be so meaningless?

We should ask ourselves the same question Christ asked the crippled man: "Do you want to be healed?" Do we? Do we want joy, courage, ingenuity, nobleness, and heroism? Or do we prefer angst, cowardice, lack of creativity, meanness, and cynicism?

Do we want to be happy?

These were my thoughts about the film. I do not know if they are correct, or if I am misinterpreting the movie. But I do know this: I would rather watch good triumph over evil in a "simplistic" story, than see random chance and evil prevail, even if it makes me laugh.

"Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things - trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up thing seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia."

----Puddleglum, to the Green Lady. The Silver Chair

I'm going to go watch Return of the King.

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