Making Movies

The third studio album from Dire Straits [1] was called Making Movies.  The album itself was moderately popular, peaking in the top 20 of the US album charts (it did better in the UK as well as Europe) and ending up going platinum, which is a solid enough performance for an album in any era.  The album was certainly not the best-known album by the band, but it was a solid concept album that presented a series of songs that told a story.  Perhaps the best known song from the album is the single “Romeo and Juliet,” about a love-struck Romeo singing to a reluctant Juliet, pouring out his soul and telling her that she can fall for chains of silver and gold and the promises of pretty strangers.  Not only is the original still sharp and on-point after nearly forty years, but the song has been successfully covered, including by Edwin McCain on his Austin Sessions album.  Rolling Stone, not known for having nice things to say about many of the bands I like, had this to say about the album [2]:  “If Making Movies really were a film, it might win a flock of Academy Awards.”

If your life was a movie, what kind of movie would it be [3]?  There is a fundamental difference between the way films are made and the way they are enjoyed.  When people set out to write a book or make a movie or make an album, either they or someone associated with the business side of it will be looking at the matter of genre.  Sometimes this can be a very touchy area, as it is as a reviewer of many books aimed at women that often hit me as a stray and unintended target.  We may enjoy a book because of its storyline, or because of its values, but all the while we are reading stories for what we enjoy we are finding ourselves pigeonholed into readers of contemporary Amish romances.  I didn’t even know that was a thing until I started reading books on a massive scale.  And if this is true for books, it is even more true for movies, which tend to be categorized extremely narrowly, regardless of how broadly diverse may be the reasons why a film is enjoyed by audiences.

It is worthwhile for us to understand what sort of genre our lives fit into, because it makes a big difference in how we see life and how other people see it.  How seriously do we take ourselves, and how seriously do others take us and our story?  If our life some kind of tragicomic farce where we take ourselves seriously but no one else does?  Is it a noble tragedy of trying to do the best and having a tragic flaw that leads to an inevitable and cathartic destruction?  Is it a comedy in which no one is taking very much seriously except perhaps love or a melodrama that is taken seriously but that seems more squalid than noble.  Our lives run the gamut of emotions, but there are patterns, and those patterns there are genres.  Do we live in the country or in the city, what sort of language do we use, what sort of quests do we have in our existence?   All of the answers to these questions push our lives into different directions, so that we and others can put our lives into some sort of a category, hopefully with originality recognized but with a fair amount of justice in the labels placed on the categories chosen.

What is the worth of seeing life as a movie or a play or something else like that?  There are at least a few elements to the answer.  For one, in life we perform.  Whether we perform well or poorly, we have an audience and we have people who are critiquing our performance, and we have fellow actors who have their own roles to play just as we do.  At times there may be a wide gulf between how we see ourselves in reality, how we see the behavior we adopt, and how other people see us, and even how God sees us, the ultimate judge and critic of our existence.  Another element is that movies and plays and other narrative elements strip life to its essential story.  Our lives may be filled with routine and tedium, but envisioning life as a movie allows us to elide the parts that are too repetitive or to indicate them with just enough repetition to allow the viewer to fill in the gaps.  Not all of the time we spend in life is essential to understanding the larger story arc of our lives–but rather a few key and critical moments we prepare for all of our lives and which determine our fate in this life, and even beyond.  And we have little choice but to be the stars of our own lives, whatever our own inclinations may be.  If we must make movies, let us make good ones.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/11/16/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-dire-straits/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/09/19/brothers-in-arms/

[2] Fricke, David (5 February 1980). “Dire Straits: Making Movies”. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 27 April 2017.

[3] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/11/06/if-life-was-more-like-a-game/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/02/18/liker-du-boker/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/02/08/a-modest-proposal-for-choose-your-own-adventure-movies/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/10/08/book-review-thinking-about-movies/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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