~ a short essay on the archetype of the “Home” – as a space, as a place we want to go, as an entire inner and outer world, of supreme importance to life and… cinema. Submitted for The Medium Writer’s challenge here.
Over the past year and a half, while mired in the isolation and alienation — and relative indolence— of a new world of solo-lived, freshly unemployed existence, I have watched over 200 films!
And I enjoyed them all!
Movies from 1927, Metropolis, all the way to movies from 2021, Godzilla vs. Kong, alighted my conscientious wayfaring through my long-gathered IMDb watchlist. Movies were my channel to cultivate my accumulating idle time in solitude; cinema became my renewed religious experience, a sacred routine with which to engage my consciousness in fresh and exciting ways.
Movies, and my exhaustively self-expressive reviewing of them via Letterboxd, became how I spent some of my time in quarantine, in my mind and on my pages, away from the world’s chaos.
Ever the burgeoning cinephile who loved a good movie, the full theater experience, the art of everything from drama to comedy to horror to big action fantasy, this cinematic odyssey was more of an intentional culmination of my fate than a new, adventurous turn of fate’s deck’s draw for me.
And naturally, after such diligent explorations into the craft of cinema, and more generally, the meaningfulness of good (and bad) storytelling, I searched for a throughline. After watching all these movies from myriad eras and genres and filmmakers, what were the common themes?
In this artful space, what was THE primary commonality?
What was it that made a *good* movie?
How were the best, most meaningful stories told?
Why did *those* characters and conflicts, *this* journey, all these story circles of Call-Threshold-Ordeal-Boon-Return resonate with me so much?
The core of all cinema, of every story — good or bad, really — I come to find is not love in and of itself. Nor power. It’s not about the rip-roaring Action! or the discovery of happiness or the triumph over suffering, not the sharing of knowledge or the collecting of wisdom. It is rarely “good” vs. “evil.” It definitely has little to do with budgets. It is not defined by how the actors look, or even their performances — though they can certainly elevate the art to new heights!
What is the strange guide unto “The Zone”, and namesake of the film Stalker (1979), looking for in the end, in that ‘room of wishes’?
What is the starcrossed duo in Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) seeking after inside each other?
What is James Caan’s legendary ace safecracker going after in his banks, in his cars, with all his ambition for one last big score in Thief (1981)?
What are Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) running away from, what are they trying to run toward?
What is The Godfather trilogy all about?
What is Sonic the Hedgehog doing all that psychotic sprinting for?
Somewhere to go back to.
Somewhere to belong.
A space where people can feel alive, whole, loved, powerful. At home.
It’s everything. It is in every story. It is the source of the conflict or its resolution. Home is the drive and the dragon, the call and the return.
In every “Hero’s Journey,” more than the boon of knowledge, experience and compassion they may be bringing back at the end of their road, it is the existence (or non-existence!) of the space that they are bringing it back to — their home — that is most vital to a story’s timeless resounding worth unto us as an audience of fellow human beings.
Simply, in and out of cinema, a “home” is the thing that everyone is searching for. Whatever it may mean for someone individually, physically or metaphysically, spiritually and emotionally, everyone desires to make a home and live within it — to love within it — alongside others.
I don’t consider myself a movie expert, or even someone that may be worthy to speak with any comprehensive authority at all on the art of cinema, but this is the throughline I have come to recognize as an essential aspect of the art. From The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) to The Terminator (1984), these stories are grounded in their characters seeking love, building community, altogether yearning and fighting for a place that they can safely call home.
In my own cinematic journey, this is one thing I have learned and wished to share. My own unifying thesis unto the realms of cinema, if you will.
Another thing I wished to share relates to me and my life.
I have spent the last month of my time in Costa Rica. Far from home, even further from the cave of my recent psyche. And after such experiences in these jungles and streets, along beaches and inside pizza parlors among heartfelt conversant interaction with friends and strangers both, on each coast over this time, I have arrived at related resolutions concerning my own existence.
After long bouts with depression and anxiety, longer periods of solitude from the world and alienation from my career, my life — and my very emotions — I have arrived at an understanding of a sacred duty before me. Beautiful friends, the wondrous, well-loved Others of my young life, in tandem with years of Self-determined reading and writing into fictional realms and non-fictional histories, have gifted me with certain spiritual truths. Coalescing them into an actionable plan to build into my art and personal life is an arduous process that is ongoing.
However, some conclusions have been reached. Being who I am at 28 years old, coexisting in transient spaces as I have over this short yet transformational period of my life, comprehending certain restless desires and fears, painstaking philosophies and purposes that have resided within me for long, I launched questions into the world and received answers.
In sum: I have been on my own personal hero’s journey and now return with such immaterial boons of augmented consciousness in hand!
I know what I want; I know what kind of life will be more than enough for me to be fulfilled.
From out of such a space as I have been inhabiting for the last month of time, I believe I understand my primary purpose.
Full underlying details to the revelation aside, the extent of my own life circumstances or personality to remain regaled here on my pages alone, to you, know that I now know this about myself:
My own life’s dream is to one day become a home for someone else. ~