Fear. Hope. And “The Redemption”

I’ve had an odd experience in the last week or so… I’ve fallen in love with movies again. Seems strange to say it, as a filmmaker – and as a guy about to direct a feature. But there it is.

You see all the years of working at a Studio: …watching everything New Line released 20-50 times…. getting buried in the minute technical details… breaking things down to their lowest pieces…
Like looking at a masterpiece and only noticing the brushstrokes, or absorbing a moment of musical genius and only hearing the hiss from the analog recording.

Yes… there were a lot of bad movies in there too…

But in the last week, for various reasons… I’ve revisited ones I like, or ones I’ve always wanted to see. And I’ve found the wonder in it again.

I’m not a guy that believes a person’s life can be completely changed by a film. But I do believe they can inspire, challenge, and inform. The rare ones do that… and whatever your top films might be, they did that to you.

I just rewatched “The Shawshank Redemption”. Don’t know how many times I’ve seen it, but it has been a while. And I was struck anew by its themes – they were louder than they’ve ever been because they are the things on my heart:

I hate our culture of fear… and every day it seems we’re given new things to be terrified of: Terrorists, global warming, Gas prices, the economy, job-loss, health scares, on and on… And fearing all of it never makes our lives better, it just locks us in tighter.

My wife and I have plenty of things we’re supposed to be afraid of – scary financial realities and my ongoing freelance working world. We are far from secure. But I’m more content now than I ever was while working at New Line. Sure, I had a consistent paycheck of decent size. But I had no happiness. No fulfillment. No Hope.

So there I was on my couch watching Shawshank and just getting overwhelmed by the battle between fear and hope throughout the whole film. Fear of going to prison. Fear of surviving prison. Fear of leaving prison. Every scene filled with reasons to fear no reason to hope.

Yet hope is the only reason to live. Andy passes it out in the film like a virus. The belief that it will get better, that the best is still out on the horizon and no matter how slow you’re moving – it’s getting closer.

I have no idea what the next year of my life will bring. Just like I had no idea what the last one would bring before I lived it. And in spite of all the scary, crazy, unexpected stuff that happened, I look at the end of 2008 with a smile. I’m looking forward to the next part. I’m living in the last line of Shawshank Redemption:

“I hope”.

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