This is dedicated to Donald and Jennifer Canterbury. Two honest people who sat with me on the park bench and told me to get over myself while walking their pet turtle.
To All the Filmmakers,
One of the lessons I learned along the way was that you shouldn’t criticize something simply because you don’t understand it. Most of the time this is due to your lack of life experience which is the key to earning proper appreciation. I used to be one of those individuals who tossed what I now know to be good films by the wayside. I simply didn’t understand the thematic presented through experimental cinema before my undergrad years. I figured if the communicated message was not clear after the first viewing there was no need for a second. Thankfully, that all changed after a dear friend/film editor, enlightened me to think differently on this.
He said, “Though it is unfortunate how people judge a film strictly based off of what they see on the screen, what may actually cause them to misinterpret a film’s thematic is not due to their ignorance, but the possibility of their limited life experience.” Meaning, if someone has not experienced particular emotion in life, they are not going to understand certain elements presented in film. We don’t know what we don’t know and if we find ourselves disinterested during a film, it could mean we are unable to relate to the subject matter because we have not yet experienced what the thematic is communicating.
Now before I go further, please know there is nothing wrong with you or the life you are living if you do not understand certain films. Art is a beast in of itself, but I think it’s important we watch experimental films with an open mind. Otherwise what is the point? We will all eventually experience the same things. Sit back, live and enjoy theses introspective pieces of emulating an interpretation of some universal elements of emotion.
I had to live long enough to understand Nicholas Winding Refn’s expressionistic film, Bronson (2008). This tragic success story of Great Britain’s most violent prisoner is rated R for a reason, but underneath its grit and rawness bathed in theatrical light, it has a superb thematic I believe is worth comprehending. The thematic presented in Bronson is ‘ambition.’
Ambition is physically abundant throughout this film. In 2016, it took me seven months after obtaining my B.A. to understand the importance of it. After my first viewing years ago, I labeled Bronson as a trash film. Then giving it a second chance during my cinematic education, I saw its craftsmanship. On my third viewing while waiting for grad school, I related to this film not knowing why.
Before the end of the seven months, I moved out of my home town, got a part-time job as a waiter at a pizza restaurant, wrote my first full-length screenplay and didn’t do as much networking as I should’ve done while waiting to start grad school. The ideals of grad school got ahead of me and after I wasn’t accepted to be then forced to network in the real world, Bronson started growing on me.
Though the main character’s methods are unorthodox, Bronson is a story about a person diligently crafting a skill he’s good at. Ambition is defined as, “One who applies themselves in order to achieve what they want; an ardent desire of rank, fame or power.” The protagonist, previously known as Michael Peterson states this in the beginning of the film. “All I’ve wanted to be was famous.” Like Bronson’s acknowledgement of accomplishing a set achievement, all I want to be is known as a professional screenwriter who builds inquisitive stories like Mr. Refn. However, through Bronson’s unnerving silence what I want is not going to be easily obtained, but if I pursue my goals as passionately as Bronson did, there’s no excuse for them not to blossom.
Now of course, I’m not advocating violence, but through the ideals of passion, I understand Bronson’s personal drive for success and furthermore understand his worldly frustration. Telling someone to have ambition is easier said than done.
After walking across the graduation stage, I did not realize I was walking into stagnated lifestyle. I thought the dream-job was waiting on the other side and not to discourage anyone from my past or the establishments I’ve grown from, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t matter how many books you read, nothing will prepare you for the real world until you’re in it. You will walk off stage and be put right in line with all the others waiting for the chance to show the world what we all are made of while watching Bronson on our lunch breaks.
In the meantime, like the infamous prisoner Tom Hardy plays breathtakingly well, I have to live life to the fullest, plan for the future and from the grounding of my morals in what identifies me as who I am, chase my dream. Symbolically, Bronson plummeting random people is me making relations with industry. Bronson murdering a mental patient to remind the guards he is not one to be messed with is me making sure we have a location permit as to film the next scene for my short film and Bronson’s hostile execution of doing whatever takes to get into a fight is me willingly accepting an internship without pay because it is a foot in the door.
In the turning of this key to lock the prison door, if you are an individual who has a goal and looking for an inspirational film, Bronson in all of its strangeness is the one for you. In my experience with cinema, whenever strange films seem find their way to me, I take it as a sign as it being the exact thing which reminds me why I want what I want in my life.
Now, go fight for your dream or as Bronson would say, “Alright… That’s enough!”