Sunday, September 9, 2012

Review: "Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then"

I've never read Don Quixote. A downloaded version of the classic sits inside a folder in my computer, but I have yet to double click on the icon; I just keep putting it off. Of course, I've already spoiled the story for myself thanks to wikipedia, but still... What am I waiting for? Why do I leave it there?
Maybe I ought to delete it.
When Leonard Woods' wife Mary became ill, he began to build her a house. Not just for them to live in, but to serve as a healing machine for her. Oblong shapes, numbered stairs, unconventional ceiling heights and floor levels would, in his mind, be the cure; a way to reach the heavens and invoke a miracle. She died despite this. And he continued to build, despite that.

Does prayer work? "Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then" really made me ask that question seriously. I was raised Roman Catholic, but was always told by my parents that there were other possibilities out there. At this moment, I don't follow any religion, and subscribe more to Arthur C. Clarke than King James.

When I was in therapy for OCD, I was told that positive thinking could help me in getting through certain anxiety ridden scenarios. I now look at the act of prayer as a form of this. And, while thinking positively did indeed help, I realize now that I was in control. Why should I have to communicate to someone I've never met or seen when I can just accomplish what I need to myself? Talk about tilting at windmills. 
Maybe I ought to read the damn thing already.
Through this hopelessly romantic tale, director Brent Green is put in the duel role of both director and narrator/viewer. He ponders about religion, blind faith and even the nature of pondering. His voice goes from steady to uneasy. His thoughts go from his own to those of Leonard. His own philosophy - how he interprets the real life story the movie is based on and how he relates with Leonard despite their differing beliefs - is actually the second story here. And, in a way, the attempt at understanding how a house can cure someone is just as silly as, well, building a house that can cure someone. Talk about tilting at windmills.

This film acts as a loving, essayic, musical poem. The stop motion live action evokes both the feel of a silent movie and of an alternate world, an alternate mindset. The music, performed live and in front of the screen, provides such wonderful emotion - it may be the best score to any movie you'll see this year. These elements combined make up one of the most imaginative and moving performances I've ever seen in a motion picture.

The main characters' actions may be both futile and foolish, but they are also admirable and beautiful; can you say that you loved someone as much as Leonard loved his wife? Can you say you have been so fascinated by a person as Brent Green is by Leonard?

In the end, I guess practicing and trying to understand religion are both just quixotic acts. The director even states, "Our nets are just not big enough" to comprehend it all. I think I relate more to Sancho Panza than Quixote himself. I'm the guy that acknowledges the reality, but will ride along with the person who sees only the fantasy. Does that make me more foolish? Maybe I should read the book this weekend.

5/5 *'s

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