What the mass media doesn’t understand they always seem to label as shallow, falling short of epic, and pretentious, not to mention boring. However, I have found that whenever critics review albums and movies this way, I should probably be making a bee line toward it and will take to the story and theme like a fish to water. This concerns me because it is much easier to miss a diamond in the rough than all the plethora of fools’ gold out there because such works so quickly go into obscurity having been missed by the masses. I have two examples this month of popular artistic expressions that go a little deeper than the average work out there.
1. Cloud Atlas
I raced to the this movie in the midst of power outages because I normally end up missing movies like this one. The last one I missed of this ilk was the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. The symbolism of this movie is very deep. Critics have complained that it is both overly complicated as well as being boring and pretentiously sentimental.
I was hoping that much like M Night Shayamalan’s Lady in the Water, the critics just didn’t get it. I was so right.
This movie has so many layers of symbolism, foreshadowing, and underlying themes, you must be a very active participant through its 3 hours. For example, fire opals keep showing up in the different time lines, and then even a screenshot of the earth in the sky alludes back to the glowing blue gem. What is an opal, up a stone used in the uncovering of past lives as well as a hydrophobic crystal that is mostly made of water. What are we, what is the earth, but a gem of mostly water, moving through time in cycles that never end?
People change sexual orientations, gender, even the nature of their humanity or non-humanity, both corporal and discorporate, throughout the film. The themes go so much further than love and relationships but also delve into the nature of society, status, humanity, freedom, responsibility, and destiny.
I hope to see it again this weekend and plan to add this epic to my collection. I look forward to reading the book as well. I commend the makers and actors that made such an endeavor happen. These are the messages and hopes much like the themes in the Matrix and Avatar, that need to be exposure to greater society. Maybe a few more people will remember their multitudes of pasts and believe in the possibilities for their futures.
2. Some Nights by Fun
What? A pop song in a major key with a marching snare drum as well as traditional African backbeats? That’s different. Oh, and you even add some major symbolism in the lyrics and vocals that speak to people on more than one level? That’s fabulous! That also means that the critics will not understand it and say that it has a weak hook. http://thevine.com.au/music/news/number-ones-fun-some-nights/
I want more out of life than a catchy hook. I am always looking for the next anthem, the next cause, the chords of my heart that make singing and dancing in the rain and fighting the good fight worth it. Some Nights does this.
The song is in a major key and a march not because it is a “happy” song. Think about why marches were written! The tradition of the march has been for thousands of years to impassion the hearts of fearless, naive young men to run valiantly into battle and often to a gruesome, early demise. This is the balance between battle rage and standing for a cause. This is the distance between the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance and how our government is run by politicians. This song is for some much more than teenagers heartbroken, confused, and looking for meaning to life. This is the human song of us all, children of the earth - children of the stars! This is the story of war, mistakes, heartbreak, loss, joy, love, all at the same time, pulling on our heartstrings, causing tears, struggle, and ecstasy. The way the vocals go from staccato peals to the wordless high register cries to gentle humming, further illustrates the dynamic extremes of emotional tides we all experience when we are fully engaged in the base aspect of living our lives.
As far as the music video goes, I expected the war imagery from this march anthem. The imagery here is not a dissonance and a strange contradiction but a graphic representation of the struggle for life and the struggle for a life worth living and loving.
Stars above me, the cold dark ground below me, the snare drum and the cries of my comrades in my ears, my blood flows through my veins and in my heart is a song. Onward.