Most of us periodically venture out of the mundane activities of normal life to hopefully have a pleasurable exper- ience out in the world. Somewhere. Doing something. For a friend and I, tonight was one of those out-ventures.
I suggested going to see a movie at a close-by discount movie theater. A discount twelve-theater movie thea- ter. Amazing the selection you can have for only $2.50 per person on a Friday evening. The movie that we saw was something I had not heard of prior to seeing it listed online at the ‘cheap seats.’ A movie called The Book Thief.
Not having seen any advertisements (I rarely watch actual television) and not having seen any online trailers, I had no notion as to what it was about. I pulled up Fandango to see what the Average Joes out there were saying about it. The general consensus was “Must Go!” That was almost good enough for me. I still, though, needed to get an idea of the story line to see if it fit the bill as something that I “must go” see.
It sounded interesting. An image of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas invaded my mind. That had been a really good movie experience.
We arrived to a near-full movie auditorium, just ahead of the trailers (a little word play, there). People continued to enter and find seats right up to the opening credits. I enjoy packed houses. I enjoy the empathy, the combined laughter, tears, and deep sighs that a film can generate in a crowd.
Whenever I see a movie that keeps me engrossed, I eventually come to a place in the film at which I will internalize a single thought: “Please don’t mess up the ending.” I hate stories in which I’m glad to be caught up in the adventure only to be dramatically (word play) let down at the end, like that of The Time Traveler’s Wife. (In fact, that movie still makes me mad.) Anyway, this thought occurred to me about halfway through.
There will be no spoilers moving forward from here, so feel free to keep reading these final few paragraphs.
The characters in the film. What wonderfully interesting lives I got to experience! No one seeing this film will be able to keep from being drawn in to the hearts and lives of these human beings. I’m glad God saw fit to have them exist. Did I mention that this movie is based on a true story?
As to the please-don’t-mess-up-the-ending aspect of the film, I need not have worried. The ending was masterful. I believe you will find it to be so, as well, should you venture out (or get the DVD, BluRay, Netflix).
As we drove back from the theater I knew that I would come back to my laptop and type up my experience, and I knew a phrase that I would use to convey my thoughts: There are not enough grand adjectives to convey the emotional impact that this film had on me. My friend and I tried to find words to convey our thoughts, but they were lacking.
We are emotional creatures, you and I. Most of us reveal our emotions pretty obviously to those who happen to be watching. It’s in the eyes and the facial expressions. Sometimes it’s in our voices and in our chests, as well. During the movie, it was easy to laugh freely because of the antics of our friends on the screen. But what is it about crying that embarrasses us? We don’t want to be the ones that allow that emotion to flow from us. Men and women throughout the theater could be heard sniffling and clearing throats. It was hard to keep it in. It was for me, anyway. But then, I guess I’ve always been a bit of a sap.
Have you ever seen the absolute perfect film? No, neither have I. But some films come extremely close, and one or two even scratch the surface. The Book Thief is one of those perfect-surface scratchers.
When the movie ended and the final credits began to scroll, there was a silence—a stillness—amongst those in attendance. It was something that I had only experienced one time before to the same extent; the aftermath of the movie Saving Private Ryan. After that film, the older generation in the room just sat and stared. Some of them, obviously reliving what they thought would never be brought before their eyes again. The same, or at least similar, can be said of this movie. It was as if we had witnessed something important, and that important something was still speaking to us when we would normally have gotten up and begun to file out of the theater.
We remained glued to our seats—almost everyone. It seemed intuitively disrespectful to be the first one to get up to leave. Yet, we all did leave. Eventually. As I walked up the carpeted aisle I looked at the people still sitting in seats, staring at the screen. I knew, then, what I must have looked like only moments before. I saw it in their eyes. Something important had happened. Not just on the screen, but inside each of us.