I’m an outdoors person, and the only thing that reconciles me to a gym is… podcasts! This time of the year, while waiting for more snow, I listen a lot to radio programs, from Radio-Canada, the BBC and Democracy Now in particular.
Over the last few weeks, I noted a few very interesting comments about what defines us: not our so-called characteristics as much as our contradictions.
On the excellent BBC Film Programme, I heard an interview with filmmaker Carol Morley, who previously made an autobiographical film called The Alcohol Years. She has just completed a film about a 38-year old woman who was found in her London flat in 2003, three years after she died. Morley said this about her subject, Joyce Carol Vincent, and her film Dreams of a Life:
“All lives are full of contradictions… if you look at Citizen Kane at the beginning, you look at this idea of the last word that someone uttered – which was obviously ‘Rosebud’ – and in Citizen Kane there are a series of interviews which contradict each other. You try to piece together a jigsaw puzzle of a man’s life through contradictory evidence… And I think all our lives are like that.
One: we present ourselves differently to different people and and, two: people are going to define us through their own eyes. I never wanted to ease out those differences, I wanted to make sure that these different views of Joyce were heard. I wanted to present the evidence that she had been in peoples lives and she had mattered.”
Quebec playright Michel Marc Bouchard, whose play ‘Les Félouettes’ was the basis for John Greyson’s film Lilies, is working on a play about Christina of Sweden, after finishing a screen play about her. Referred to just as Queen Christina in my native Sweden, she was very unorthodox and even non-conformist woman for her era, the 17th Century.
In an interview on Radio-Canada Bouchard said (my translation):
“I like characters who are paradoxical, because our paradoxes define us, they confront each other within ourselves every single day.”
I think this is a very profound statement, not just for understanding oneself, but also for making films.
And Bouchard added, again with reference to Queen Christina:
“Of course, for making a movie, the soul of the character has to touch us, not just make us feel like we’re watching a weird creature.”
Thanks to Tobi Elliott for her help with the blog.