Saturday, 5 March 2011
The Old Apartment - This Is Where We Used To Live
For one week I will be focusing on the film "The Apartment." This is the third in a series of articles.
In the history of humankind, the film camera is a pretty new invention. For whatever its original purpose was -- the main reason soon became: to shut us up and entertain us for two hours (or educate, or brainwash.) But of course, the effects are much longer lasting. In the past, people would die and they would be gone. Now they're living on our giant TV screens. Billy Wilder movies still get new reviews, and people debate who is more natural; Lemmon or Stewart. It's as if they're still here. There's something so strange about that, when you really think about it -- these people still shape and form parts of our lives long after they've exited. Was it meant to be this way? Did nature intend for us to be able to press rewind and bring back the dead?
A motion picture is a snapshot; something created by a bunch of people some time in the past for reasons we'll never fully know. People make movies because they're inspired, or because they want to impress a girl, or because they had three-pictures left on their contracts. There are all sorts of reasons. But these movies last for life and they take on new meanings which had nothing to do with the intentions of the creator's. 'The Social Network' means something now, in 2011, because we're all spending our time on Facebook. But what will it mean in fifty years? What does 'The Great Dictator' mean now and what did it mean when Chaplin made it? 'The Apartment' captured my heart, mind, soul and all-round-attention in a way so few films ever have done. And it leaves me longing--- longing for more Wilder dialogue, for more people like C.C. Baxter. I live my life like a guy who constantly gives back the executive washroom key, and instead holds on to his integrity --- but what does that mean? Is who I am based on the real world or based on a fantasy of 1960? Can I live in this way or will I just wind up with egg foo yong on my face?
Would C.C. Baxter survive in 2011? Would Fran Kubelik go running after him? These questions are stupid, perhaps; as they were the work of fantasy in 1960, just as they are now. But films do hold resonance in the years they are made. They have meaning, they reflect society. But when people like me and you still find meaning in them long after the fact, we're in a minority. On our worst days, we act like we're in on a secret; like we 'get it' -- but holding on to the romance of old is always accompanied by disappointment and a lack of comprehension of so much of what happens in the world around us. Do we watch these movies just for comfort, to console us in some way; or are they useful and meaningful in today's world?