Inspire | Human Stories

Watching Films and Nothing Else

Rabu, 02 Feb 2022 18:00 WIB
Watching Films and Nothing Else
Jakarta -

According to my MUBI list, I watched 432 movies, short movies, and TV series in 2020. Four hundred and thirty-two. That's a huge number for me, considering I only watched 163 in 2019. During the year 2020, when the world was first introduced to a whole new unknown chaos, I found solace in this newfound hobby - watching films. Everything was put on halt, where there were no new movies, no more going out whenever I wanted to, let alone going to the theatres. I've always loved films and being updated with new ones, but during those tough times, I dived into classics.

I've also loved classics and have been watching and reading many of them most of my life. When I was younger, I started watching a lot of Audrey Hepburn & Marilyn Monroe's movies just out of curiosity. As years went by, the interest grew as well, and I started watching more older directors in 2020, and they're mainly post-war movies. I didn't know why I found solace in them, especially Japanese ones. But I remember during that period, I was reading Japanese classic literature most of the time, and finally gave in by the end of March to watch Akira Kurosawa's most famous movie, Seven Samurai, for the first time in my life. The film runs for 3 hours and 27 minutes, in black and white, and requires subtitles since I don't speak Japanese. This movie was by far the longest movie I've ever watched then, but I couldn't even fathom where to explain how it drove me to watch Kurosawa's other works and his peers during that time. He was a genius, and that was all I was thinking in my head in the last 1,5 hours of the movie run.

And the obsession began. There was this craving that I constantly felt if I didn't watch any classics at least once or twice a week. I was trapped inside my own house, forced by nature to stay in, and Criterion Channel was my greatest friend. I was unemployed during that time, and these classics did give me this unspoken joy I never thought I would experience. Even according to The New York Times psychologists, watching movies that give you a sense of nostalgia during hectic times is indeed a healthy coping mechanism. I found certain resemblances that directors nowadays take inspiration from; for example, Wes Anderson takes notes from Ozu's storytelling and cinematography style. I could never remember things I studied for my degree, yet I can remember all the years these old movies were released, even the directors of said movie.

Yasujiro Ozu, Mikio Naruse, Edward Yang, Kenji Mizoguchi, Satyajit Ray, and I just lost count until the end of 2020. Nobody in my peers watches classics as much as I do, and none of them seems to have a significant interest as I do. I started making friends online by talking about these dead directors and their works that leave me blue most of the time. I don't see myself as a cinephile, but I love watching movies and the satisfying aftermath.

Mikio Naruse would be the one who stands up the most compared to all the directors I've watched last year. His movies mainly focus on divorce and the hardship of Japanese women. My snarky feminist side believed male directors could never define women as good as actual women do, but boy was I wrong. He always treated his female characters as strong women who could do it all. From divorcing a cheating husband when society opposed it, spraying a hose to her husband's mistress, running a business, facing the loss of a child, you name it. Most of his films have a linear storyline, and just like most Japanese movies, they tend to move slowly, and not much happening that might bore the audience. It is such an irony that women portrayed in his works, with all their issues, struggles, and hardships, are still being experienced by women these days.

As my interest and preference in movies grew, so did my reading. I prefer reading classics during the same period I watch classics. I got interested after watching Rope by Alfred Hitchcock, where the characters mentioned Crime and Punishment as inspiration for their perfect murder act. What's ironic is, in a famous interview of Hitchcock with François Truffaut, he stated that Crime and Punishment were not his but Dostoevsky's achievement, and even if he did make the remake of it, it wouldn't be as good. The funny part is, way before the interview that occurred in 1962 (when The Birds was in production) The Birds and Rebecca were a few of his movies that were adapted from a book, and since I've watched the movie first, I still triggered to read the book after. Two years ago today, I wouldn't think I would have Tolstoy's War and Peace or even Bronte's Jane Eyre on my shelf, but nobody knows what the future holds, right?

I still have a bunch of titles that I haven't watched, and the list keeps increasing instead of decreasing as the year goes by. I still think about my favorite classic movies from time to time or even the ones that freaked me out, like Woman in the Dunes by Hiroshi Teshigahara. But I try to keep up with recent movies as well, and good God, they've been good. Ultimately - I love films. I love that I find solace and happiness through somebody else's art. I love that I can watch Eric Rohmer's movies whenever I need my slow Sunday afternoon after a long week. Just like what François Truffaut said, "Three films a day, three books a week and records of great music would be enough to make me happy to the day I die."

[Gambas:Audio CXO]