The Cinema

by Peg Coleman

(Part 2)

Two favorite directors in my early movie going days were Ingmar Bergman and Woody Allen. I was drawn to “serious” movies and they were two of the most serious of the movie- makers. Bergman especially had the ability to pinpoint what he seemed to consider the ‘human condition’ of depravity by exploring in great detail the relationships between family members, friends and people in love. His movies were so overpowering it was as though he would not allow me to leave them feeling uplifted or energized, but rather insisting I carry the full weight of the hopelessness and despair he seemed to believe was the “real” meaning of our lives. Both men seemed to use film in their search to make sense of their lives.

They did it by projecting their own thoughts into the lives of the relationships that they portrayed on the screen. Although Allen had a quirky sense of humor that ran through many of his stories, his also often ended with the same sense of hopelessness, despair and victimization as Bergman. It was as though both men were saying ‘see, we are all helpless people trying to make sense of a life that makes no sense. We are all victims in some way and our lives have no purpose other than to survive them.’

I do not agree with their final conclusions because I think the premise they are based on is wrong. The conclusions they leave us with in their movies stem from a basic belief that human life is simply a result of time plus chance, otherwise known as the big bang theory. What else could we conclude about the purpose and meaning of our lives if we assume they all came about by chance rather than as a result of careful planning and forethought. What other choice do we have but the despair they paint such a clear picture of ? The choice is that we do have a choice. If we can be open to the possibility that someone could exist with a far greater intelligence than ours, is that would be a start. It would have to be someone who could not only have thought of forming and designing us with all of the amazing complexities of mind and body that we possess, but someone who could also do it. But that is a possibility at least as valid as the other is.

Think a moment about some of today’s top fashion designers and the clothing they produce. Do you think for a moment their ‘creations’ come about as a result of some molecules chancing to bump together in just the right way at just the right time? Try to convince them of that! We know that these designers, with a staff of talented people, work very hard to get the line of that jacket, which you will pay a month’s salary for, to fall exactly right. We know that serious time and attention goes into every detail of that garment. We know that before a single swatch of fabric is handled, before a single stitch can be sewn, there has to be a plan to follow. We realize that there has to be an intelligent mind that thinks out every detail of every garment before there is even a hint of it in the great fashion houses. Yet we are asked to believe by creative people such as these that our lives are a matter of chance. We are asked to believe that something impersonal called fate will act upon our lives in ways that we cannot change or influence.

Their conclusions go against what common sense tells me is reality: that our bodies which perform untold amounts of precision movements every second of every day did not come about by bumping into the right configuration of molecules flung about space by a big bang. We are intelligent enough to realize that if a simple jacket that is worn today and thrown away tomorrow takes so much planning, surely we who are so very complex did not come about as a result of chance to be left at the mercy of the elements of this earth and other people’s whims. I could more easily convince myself of the existence of Hobbits!

Return to Table of Contents