We've been working on development at work this week - the company I work for (Closer pRADuctions) is gearing up to start some new film and TV projects, so there's been a lot of early discussion of stories, what stories can mean, and how we generate stories. Which all folds in nicely with this project.
In particular, today we were freaking out over a movie called 'Enemy.' I'll put the trailer below, but if you're interested in seeing movies that are good and not shit but are in fact super good, I would avoid watching this trailer at all and just wait and see the movie because, as I say, it is super good.
'Enemy' is this totally surreal, Kafka-esque story about a man who discovers that he has a doppleganger. Chaos ensues.
We were excited about it because its meaning is so ambiguous - it presents very little answers - but, importantly, there's a sense of control. The filmmakers know what the answers are, or at least what they might be. There is meaning there - it's just out of your grasp. Brushing your fingertips. Which is an exciting place to be, thrilling and life-affirming, and is precisely the reason why I love 'Magnolia' so much. Oh man, I sort of know what the frogs mean, but I sort of don't either.
Finding ways to leave space in a form as precise as film often is, is a challenge. I'm really of the opinion that film requires the writers to have a deep understanding of their material - and its only then that you can start removing levels of detail and still be in careful control of the manipulation and revelation of your audience. Because film is a medium that is, first and foremost, about the experience of an audience, and the best filmmakers control that experience with the deftest of skill.
That said, I think I overthink my film writing sometimes, plan it out way too much. I always try to allow for moments of the uncanny, or moments of unexplained meandering, but I want to go further, to mine deeper ideas. This writing project is helping that - I'm writing much more instinctually. I do feel that prose is a form that can be much more about ideas, and much less concerned with crafting a journey for its audience - if only for the fact that its very nature makes it something that one dude can sit around and punch out on his keyboard, rather than a monolithic effort wrangling money and people and huge amounts of time and then wasting it on something that nobody can engage with. There are other reasons, I know, but that's a big one.
So with these stories, I'm just writing them, enjoying their ambiguity. And, at this point, I don't even really know what they mean. Both Bundle and Rain are experiments in imagery and metaphor, and I really don't care that they're ambiguous in their meaning. I like that about them, even.
But if I'm writing them truly instinctually, without thinking too hard about what they mean, do they mean anything at all? Something to consider.
Seriously, the ending of 'Enemy' - I nearly fell off my fucking chair.