Sunday, April 13, 2008

A New Feature: "Something Seems Familiar"

Introducing a new feature on the Nose, called "Something Seems Familiar", where we will contrast and correlate movies and TV programs that, while very different, may have similar core messages. I was going to call it "Something Smells Familiar", but I think I need to take a little break from flippant nose puns. For our inaugural post, I will take a look at two excellent films that would not normally be discussed on the same page.

The first is "Autism the Musical" (above) another first class project from HBO Documentaries. It follows the efforts of five autistic children to put on a musical for their friends and family. It is immensely moving, particularly when some of the kids try to describe the isolation and frustration caused by their affliction.

I felt a similar sense of isolation while watching Into the Wild, an award winning movie directed by Sean Penn (now out on DVD). It explores the great length one sad soul went to seek independence and a complete departure from his fellow human beings. It is magnificently filmed and includes a brief but memorable (and Academy Award nominated) moment from veteran actor Hal Holbrook, who befriends the young man who is running away from everything. The sweeping scenes of Alaskan wilderness are also accompanied by a gorgeous and powerful score composed by Pearl Jam rocker Eddie Vedder.

A central theme of anhedonia resonates through both films. In one,
the resulting loneliness is cruelly imposed by a little understood disease. In the other, it is actively sought after by a young man escaping from modern society and a troubled past. In both, the redemptive power of music and unconditional love of a few dedicated humans, offers some solace to their locked-in lives. These shows are definitely worth watching. Try them and see if you think they have something in common too. "Autism" is still playing on HBO and "Into the Wild" can be found on PPV or DVD.

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