Over the last couple of weeks I’ve watched two films that meant a lot to me when I first watched them back in the nineties. They remain favourite movies and the very act of viewing them again is a form of nostalgia.
I enjoyed the movies for the very same reasons as I enjoyed them the first time. I was caught up again, provoked and enlarged and moved once more. I went away admiring the art the movies represent, the combination between words and images put together by an expert eye and performed by actors who grasp the very truth of the story.
The act of nostalgia also, briefly, cast me back to the era I watched them in. It was a very different time to now.
It’s a funny act to be so transported. It’s like visiting a museum of your prior life. You look at the exhibits with a combination of bemusement and wonder. Things long forgotten are recalled to you. You briefly enter into the spirit of those times, casting about and seeing around you the things as they were then. It’s a full, rounded thing, made richer in hindsight with the knowledge of where things went.
My experience on both occasions was that in the middle of this nostalgic remembrance I felt some very small thing that was dark and sad. I thought about that. My first take was that the movies were evoking a time of life that was happier for me, and the contrast depressing. It was a time of life when movies such as these – The Age of Innocence and Three Colours: Blue – had added meaning because the themes, I thought, would become increasingly relevant to me in the years ahead, if not already. I imagined I would be living a life as dramatically rich and meaningful as I saw on screen (and I did!). They felt relevant to me as a person in the middle of my life.
The sadness I felt was because I knew that time was past, that stage of my life was gone, or so I thought. It was a melancholy reflection.
I continued to reflect on it though in the background, and a day or two later I had a different take on the situation. It was true that by comparison my life is uneventful now, and emotionally much less exciting. It’s not past though, I thought. It’s not the end of a stage I mourn, but rather the situation I’m in – and situations can change.
That’s my hope and belief. Hopefully in a year from now if I watch a movie like this I’ll know all about it because my life is just as rich and brilliant.