Big Miracle

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Yesterday I watched Big Miracle at Jubilee Library. There is often a free showing of a film on a Sunday afternoon in one of the conference rooms. The tag line of the film attracted me: “inspired by the incredible true story that united the world”. It’s about three whales that got trapped in ice near North America and the rescue attempts to free them.

There was a cheesy ending where the guy, who spurned the girl for “doing whatever she wanted” (!), turned up at her work and told her he couldn’t live without her. She fell into his arms with happiness and kissed him. Bleurgh! He did it in the traditional way: by saying something negative, making it seem like he wasn’t interested and then giving her the prize of his love. I wanted to throw something at the screen but I managed not to.

Even though the film was excessively cheesy, there were some beautiful moments in it. Drew Barrymore played a Greenpeace activist. At one point she is given the opportunity to tell the world’s news stations why the whales should be saved – an operation that would cost a lot of money and create risks for the humans involved. She begins by listing all the possible bad things that could happen as a result of climate change. The cameraman stops filming and tells her she’s lost all the viewers and asks her why it matters to her to save the whales. She takes a deep breath and talks about vulnerability and how that connects us to other living creatures. Everything seemed to slow down while she spoke about that.

There was a beautiful shot of an Eskimo boy laying on the ice, listening to the whales. It lasted only a few seconds though. I wonder if they could have told the story with less dialogue? Perhaps that’s how it actually happened. Or perhaps that’s the perception of how it actually happened. The poetry – those slow moments of not much happening – were not included. I haven’t watched a mainstream film in a while and I felt bombarded with information at times. Every scene was there to move the plot along. Even the beautiful shots were there to do something.

Music played throughout the movie, or that’s how I remember it. I felt frustrated at times because the music was another way of instructing the audience about the feeling the film was designed to induce. I would have preferred a more realistic soundtrack that allowed me the space for my own feelings, whatever they might be.

I think overall, I felt sad at the end of the film. It showed the unfortunate conditions that make people with integrity resort to manipulation to get what they want. This was highlighted each time the Greenpeace activist asked for help from those in “authority” and was refused because of their own fears or lack of understanding. She was able to use these fears to get the help she needed but at a cost: she developed a cynical attitude that made her believe she had to fight for whatever she needed. That sort of attitude can cause burnout.

Watching this film made me think about the shooting script I’ve been working on. It’s dialogue heavy. I’m not sure it’s the way I want to go, which begs the question: what is the way I want to go?

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