I’m a big fan of director’s commentaries. In the mid-2000’s, they were standard with any DVD purchase. As with many good things, it’s been ruined by greed. These days, if you’re lucky enough to find a commentary it’s usually wrapped in a 25-30 blu ray edition. There’s an art to them. Some directors go on and on about scene locations and the general difficulties they had shooting. Others have actors on and they goof around for two hours. As an aspiring writer, I always relish commentaries that focus on the storytelling aspect of movies.
My favorite commentary is for The Bourne Supremacy by director Paul Greengrass. Commentaries are a writing tool for me. I like to know what directors(and sometimes screenwriters)of movies were thinking when they filmed a particular scene. I get more than I bargained for with Greengrass. He gave me a tool I’d use for the rest of my life.
The Bourne movies are grittier and more realistic than your standard spy fare. They are one of the movies to use the heavily criticized shaky cam. If you don’t know what it is, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Greengrass said that he wanted the Bourne movies to look and feel “unconsidered.” Unconsidered?? What did he mean? I don’t remember him giving an explanation. He kept talking about what was going on in the next scene. But I pondered its meaning for a long time after.
The success of the Bourne franchise is due in large part to its realism. These aren’t James Bond movies full of beautiful women, gadgets and exotic locales. Greengrass’ vision for the Bourne movies is for them NOT to look like movies. He wants to put you in the bewildered mind of Jason Bourne. As a child of the 80’s I’ve seen hundreds of action movies filled with slow motion running, punches and bullets. The violence in the Bourne flicks are more intimate. We see the cost of violence. We’re up close for every punch given and received. Villains don’t die quickly, they go slowly and painfully.
I started looking at all of this as a metaphor for life. The unconsidered life. When is the last time you were 100 percent honest with someone? Better yet how honest can you be with most people? True honesty can seem strange in a world full of pretense. My facebook feed is filled with date nights, honor roll students and tropical vacations. Surely these people have the same problems I do?
Do their kids whine and complain all day like mine do? Does their wife have sex with them? Does their husband take out the garbage? Does anyone swipe right on them on Tinder?
We’ve been trained to suppress how we feel. When we feel a negative emotion we are taught to hide it, to ignore it, to man up. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not advocating a total release of emotions. I’m asking for realism. Sometimes you have a bad day. Sometimes you’ve just got to tell the people around you the truth. You’re having a bad day, your kids are driving you crazy and you’re broke as hell. I’m not a doctor but I’ve got to imagine that hiding and repressing everything you feel to 99 percent of the world can’t be healthy.
Many are living very “considered” lives even among family and friends. If we can’t lean on them and be our true selves where can we do it? Instead, we settle for this life of false pretense and accomplishment. We try to make everyone on the outside world think we are successful and happy. I remember when my ex-wife and I miscarried. I felt like I’d been inducted into a club. Woman after woman came up to me and told me stories of how they’d lost children. They shared with me their struggles with the loss and hopes to have other children. Before the miscarriage, this type of sharing was very rare. Granted, this isn’t a subject that you bring up at dinner. However, many of these women I’ve known my entire life and I didn’t even know that this had happened to them.
I can’t imagine the sense of isolation they may have felt, thinking that they are the only ones they know going through this. That’s why it’s so important to build unconsidered communities. When everyone is living a considered life, it makes those who struggle feel like failures and feel left out, when in reality we all go through the same struggles. I’ve started living this way and it’s had varied results. Sometimes I’m too “honest” for people. They are taken a back or they think I have an ulterior motive. Which is kind of sad when you think about it, that honesty is so uncommon that it looks like a lie.
There are always people that resist and people who don’t want to hear the truth. Family patterns in particular can be hard to break. Many would love to live in their fantasy worlds. Let them. They get to choose and so do you. The unconsidered life has done wonders for me and my outlook on life. I’m as comfortable in my own skin as I’ve ever been. Life is a lot more like Bourne than Bond.