If you’re on a quest for answers about who you are and how to find your place in the world, look at a Cinemashrink review of a film you love. I am maintaining an archive for the essays I’ve written and published about mythic themes in film for those of you who love film, are curious about subterranean themes of meaning beneath movie narratives and want more out of film than simply entertainment. Norman Lear says being human is hard, implying by his life work that making invisible stories visible helps us meet such an arduous task. C.G. Jung made the significance of delving into the unconscious key to a healthy modern life. He emphasized the importance of activating archetypal images in the imagination as both a source of inspiration and healing. I have found many films important in my search for meaning and identity in relationships, the changing stages of life and shifting realities in the world around me.
Myth is a transformative power, lifting the ordinary to greatness and bringing greatness to feet that walk the earth. When we find myth in film, we naturally pause as we do before a work of art painted by a master and engage the large gift of being human. Myth lies in the realm of imagination and possibility where answers to the mysteries of our minds and soul are sought. Films have an uncanny ability to contain messages that feel familiar, strangely intimate and strongly moving. The visual imagery of film likens them to dreams, creating a wonderment of whether they come from a collective unconscious in which we all participate.
When we think of myth, we usually think of Greek legend with its gods and heroes, its sagas of love and war. The Greeks, perhaps, felt the powers of change in civilization so intensely that they lived within tales of mythic proportion as legitimate fact. But human imagination is not bound by ancient mythology. Nor is myth a lie. Myth is not to be confused with fallacy. Myth is a living phenomenon of the human spirit, an ever present sorting of truthful perceptions lending insight to our most daunting dilemmas and strength for our part in an evolving story of what it means to be human.
When we actively engage with a film, mythic energies and themes emerge. We participate in another reality of movement where subjective perception matters, affecting event and consequence. Perception, with its magical capacity for illusion, opens a direct route to curiosity. How valid is what we’re seeing? What is reality? How real are we? Where are we going? Who are we, anyhow? Film takes us on adventures beyond logic and, in the end, returns us home. Think Wizard of Oz.
Like the sound a penny makes when it hits the water at the bottom of the well, we feel a satisfying ring of personal truth in a film guided by myth. We may discover we’re held back by a barely detectable force or drawn forward into an unknown by a wind we can just barely handle. Whether coming of age, meeting a mid-life crisis and making up a new beginning for timeworn ending to old age, an inspired imagination is a constant guide and worthy companion. Imagination’s middle name might be possibility. With my essays and my references on this site, I share my belief in the invisible but felt, powerful reality of myth in our lives. Good films reflect the most important issues we face as human beings.
Cinemashrink is a living archive, as is myth. You’ll find essays for current films and past, recently published and published years ago. Also, I’ll be updating my Cinemashrink DVD Treasure Trove of film capsules on a monthly basis to give you quick thoughts about films I’m watching. My Trove includes well-known films to inspire a second look and others so obscure you may not have heard of them. I hope you will read my essays and scan my Trove picks looking for a fresh perspective on a film and find a treat. See the movie you didn’t see!