Saturday, February 02, 2008

Picture Perfect

My wife bought Stranger than Fiction over the holidays. We rented this wonderful movie last year and knew it deserved another viewing. We sat down to watch it over the weekend. In case you’re unfamiliar, Stranger than Fiction is the story of a man named Harold Crick who suddenly finds himself in the middle of a very real novel. The ultimate conclusion is something other than the main character would have chosen for himself. Assured by the local literature expert that the ending is a work of majestic genius, he decides to proceed with the determined course of life.

The kicker comes unexpectedly at the end. While the ending of the book becomes tragic for Harold Crick, it is universally accepted as the poetic, proper, and beautiful conclusion. However the author decides that the perfect dénouement is not worth the misery of an altogether real man.

There are a number of deep thoughts and provocative connotations running throughout this brilliant film. The ending, however, made me appreciate a unique aspect of life on the Earth. My personality tends towards the grandiose; I have an incredible craving for poetic justice. Rarely does an ending live up to the grand expectations that I place upon it. This applies to books and movies as well as the everyday events of my life. Stories ought to have grand and moving conclusions. It just seems the right thing to do.

Stranger than Fiction presents another vision of the end. Perhaps the conclusion of our stories is not about beauty and perfect timing. Perhaps the beauty of an ending is eclipsed by the beauty of reality. Are we willing to sacrifice the ghostly excellence of the possible future for the awkward delicate beauty of the mundane? Do we spend so much time focusing on the perfect conclusion to our story that we fail to do justice to the elements of plot?

The closing line of the movie echoes in my thoughts: “And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties which we assume only accessorize our days are, in fact here for a much larger and nobler cause: They are here to save our lives.

So be it.

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