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Sarcasm Aside

random thoughts of a self-diagnosed neurotic with the attention span of a five-year old... a blog by Alternati

Escapism

Wednesday, August 08, 2007




Michael Scofield had to spend months studying and researching every single thing between a screw he can use as an Allen wrench to D.B. Cooper, had to tattoo about 50 percent of his body with things as vital as structural plans of Fox River Penitentiary to a thanks-for-tattooing-the-obvious "Christ in a Rose" (alluding to Christina Rose, his mom's and boat's names... Does one really need a tattoo to remember a huge boat christened with your mom's name?) Anyhoo... He also mastered folding paper cranes. He did this all to escape from one prison... and eventually end up in another one.

(Post-Spoiler Alert)

My mode of escape is far less taxing, not to mention friendlier (and non-permanent) to the skin. These are all I need...


---------

After catching an inch thick layer of dust on my movie backlog shelf, I finally got to see Pan's Labyrinth. It is, visually, a very beautiful film. It shows the whimsical world of Princess Moanna filled with faeries and magical chalk... but also, doesn't shy away from showing the terrifying world of fascist Spain filled with death, torture and a sliced mouth.


I always enjoy a well made film with not so well known actors. The absence of top-billed celebrities almost always lets the story and the craft stand out. A delight... as opposed to a mental montage of previous astounding roles flashing through one's head while watching a well known actor crash and burn, one suffers through in most well publicized films.


There is much to be said about fantasy literature... and conversely fantasy films. The transient escape they offer, no matter how bizarre to students of cynicism, is priceless.

Legendary authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis wrote escapist literature to the nth degree. Although probably not intentional, it seems they designed alternate realities to the Second World War. The fantasy worlds may have elves, dwarves, centaurs and a magical lamp post... but the terrors of war and death are real and wholly prevalent, but with a inkling that in the end, goodness will prevail.


Both put the fate of the world in the hands of seemingly atypical characters. Atypical in the sense that they are not a ripped Hercules or an Excalibur wielding King Arthur. Hobbits and children are the primary heroes in these tales... an empowering idea that anyone with a courageous heart can be epic worthy. They (as said poignantly by Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire) rely on the kindness of strangers. A faun with a red scarf, an emaciated hobbit with multiple personalites, talking beavers, talking trees... And they are under the guidance of someone "enlightened" in the Dalai Lama sense of the word... a white wizard and a lion with a soothing voice.


They wage war against the most Goliath-esque of enemies with legions of ferocious pawns. Sauron with his Nazgul, orcs and Uruk-hai... Jadis with her wolves, dwarves and minotaurs.

Contemporary works follow a similar trend. J.K. Rowling, especially so in her final books, had less than subtle metaphors about terrorism guised as deatheaters and dementors.


Even the Wachowski brother's Matrix Trilogy, has the elements of unlikely heroes and impossible enemies (not to mention insanely chic eyewear)


Escapism is underrated. Many brush it off as works of whimsy made by wishful authors or brothers on pot. Attempts at belittling reality. To the contrary, I believe these books and films capture the essence of the times they were made more than history books and CNN specials. The characters are ironically made more relateable (yes, even with hobbit feet and wands), the emotions on war more authentic. (yes, even with the dramatic speeches before engaging in battle) It captures the pre-war anxiety, the terrors of war, and the post-war oxymoron of, for lack of a better term, a bitter sweet ending.

(Ok, even I puked a little in my mouth with all this sentimentality)

Tolkien said it best...
"Escapism (has) an element of emancipation in its attempt to figure a different reality"



It's kinda like bad news broken gently during bedtime.












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posted by Alternati, 8:49 PM
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