Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"The Sensation of Sight"

I will return to the Cardinal's essay this week, but I want to say just a few things about "The Sensation of Sight" a new film written and directed by Aaron Wiederspahn an Either/Or films production (you can check it out on their website, eitherorfilms.com and you can also google the movie title and look at a synopsis on Imdb's website.

One way I can speak about the movie is its relation to theology. I immediately think of Josef Pieper's book on Hope. Man, he says, is 'one on the way', a phrase translated from the latin, status viatoris. St. Thomas used this term to describe the state of man's soul. We are in a state of 'not yet' or to give it a visual, poetic dimension, 'travelers' on the way to a destination. The Sensation of Sight looks at a slice of the lives of four groups of people, all of whom are experiencing the difficult realities encountered in life. The main character, Finn, (played by David Strathairn) deals with his feelings of guilt after he witnesses one of his students take his own life. The rest of the characters are involved in struggles of their own, but related by circumstances to Finn's struggle. The movie is crafted in such a way as to recreate the tension of the moral drama we all are involved in. It expertly involves the viewer in a way most films do not. It does this by the writing, compositional elements, visual effects, wonderful acting, set design, cinematography, music; the list goes on. I find myself a firmer believer in the medium of film...

My personal response in short. I have never felt so much a part of the action of the film as I did watching Sensation. This experience of feeling so close emotionally to the characters' lives is a result of the depth Aaron's writing is at. All the elements specific to film he employs, beautifully support the great theme explored: hope is not a reality or a figment somewhere unreachable, but is always before us waiting to illumine the darkness of our present sufferings. I appreciated the visual artistry, the montage. I loved that the story builds, crescendos and finally has a payoff, but not in a fake propped up way. Not all the possibilities of the characters choices are explored, but are left up to the moral imagination. Not every action and its conclusion are explicit, but implied. Aaron does this not just in dialogue, but visually, audibly, and by using techniques not often seen in film today.

I could keep going, but I need to cut out.