Henry Miller Memorial Library

Big Sur, California
We do not talk - we bludgeon one another with facts and theories gleaned from cursory readings of newspapers, magazines and digests.

Reflections on Week 5 of the International Short Film Screening Series: Where Pathos Knows No Borders

My favorite film from last night was “Towards the Sun” (movie and BSISFSS name-drop here.)  I’m a sucker for the whimsical Wes Anderson-y stuff, especially when it has a killer Norwegian beat soundtrack and the little guy kinda-gets the girl.

It was beautifully shot and our protagonist, Lennard, was expertly cast.  His face oozed with a natural pathos (the slick hairdo didn’t hurt) which reminded me of a shorter, paler Jimmy Stewart (check this out btw.)  And speaking of pathos, I like how my pathos-o-meter was all over the map throughout this finely-paced film.

That is, in the beginning our lovestruck little bro Lennard is an object of extreme sympathy.  His love is unrequited and he gets bullied by his peers and the sinister gym coach (a familiar trope!)  Yet as the story evolves and Lennard becomes more confident, we shift our pathos towards the girl, whom we quickly learn is caught in the middle of a gnarly custody battle.

You can see the shift in pathos and empathy on screen; in a pivotal playground scene Lennard is blabbing about moving to Paris as the girl stares blankly into space.  Her mind is elsewhere.  Lennard seems to sense this – my friend Paul taught me this a long time ago: wanna get the girl?  Ask her a lot questions – and shifts towards protector and confidant mode.  And now we empathize with the poor girl who seemingly had it all.

But the pathos-o-meter isn’t finished! Lennard’s gal hatches a plan to terrorize the evil gym teacher,  and suddenly we feel bad for him as the camera peers into his lonely living room, just him and his annoying dog.

Indeed, pathos was the theme for the night!

* In “Statue” we feel for the, erm, statue, as he longingly gazes at his street musician colleague-muse.

* In “Courte Vie,” we feel for the protagonist who’s searching for an identity in a hazy no-man’s land of religion, culture, violence, and sexual frustration.

* In “The Cup Reader” we pity the women desperately searching for a mate, be it George Clooney or the poor guy with the lazy eye (as if beggars an be choosers!)  (As my friend once said; “there isn’t “someone for everyone.”  There are three billion women on the planet versus two billion men, or whatever.  Do the math!”)

* And in “First Date” (not to be confused with the best instrumental song ever; see below) we empathize with — well….let’s just paraphrase Cormac McCarthy who famously said, “Once you get something in your head, it’s hard to get it out.”

Our pathos is rooted in the fact that for each protagonist, they are longing for something: love, a place in society, a husband, toilet paper.  So the message is this: once we abandon longing and demolish the self, then, and only then, shall no peace.  For want brings suffering!

What was your favorite film?

And we’ll see you next week – Wed. at Osio and Thurs. at the Library.  Tickets here!


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