Personal Meaning of Movies

Just yesterday Ryan Hollinger published this video:

The main point is that while you can find all sorts of reference points, that’s not necessarily what you should be interested in. Explanations by the filmmakers or critics or random YouTube channels might be informative, but these people can’t take into account your personal history, which will always “color” (as the idiom goes in Finnish) your experience of the films.

Case in point: I just saw Jane Campion’s 1990 film An Angel at My Table. The explanation on IMDb is that it’s about a woman, who was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia. While that was probably a good marketing approach, it’s didn’t feel like the main focus of the movie. Still, it’s probably the most memorable thing.

Her actual problem is social anxiety, which was definitely worsened by her eight unneeded years in a mental institute with regular shock therapy and just barely avoiding lobotomy. If you don’t know what lobotomy is, just look it up. That was something that was actually done to people during our lifetimes.

To me personally, the social anxiety definitely hit a nerve. I am highly introverted and I do have similar problems, although I can overcome these feelings when needed. Of course, the situation of the main character isn’t quite as good, as she does not seem to be as introverted as I am, which makes her situation much more tragic.

However, there was something very specific, which had me thinking while walking home. The reason Janet (our hero) ends up in an asylum, is that her psychology professor just decides that she must need the stay in the institution. Why? We don’t really know. She does act sort of weirdly, but it seems that the professor just overreacts to something he saw. He is a professor, so probably doesn’t practice, so all of this is highly unethical to say the least, as she doesn’t appear to receive any sort of treatment or even an interview from an actual practitioner before her stay.

I am a teacher in higher education. While I don’t have the power or inclination to have anyone committed, I do wield a lot of power over my students. While I hope to use this power for good, I can’t always know what effect my actions have on my students. They are young and impressionable, so I might set them on a totally different path through life without anyone involved understanding what’s happened. You know, chaos theory.

Now, I doubt any of the authors involved thought that this was a key thing in the movie, although I guess problems with authority was definitely a theme they wanted to present. Still, this is the way the movie spoke to me, because again, the experience is always subjective.

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