Over the next week I will begin to publish all of our work on the myriad of themes present in this extraordinary film.
Q1. According to Watt, how are human beings linked together?
According to Watt, human beings are linked together by their experiences and the emotions we each experience. Despite the uniqueness within our individual characters, feelings such as grief, hope and fear are inevitable and impossible to avoid, as is the concept of death. In such times it is part of our human nature to unite and support one another in an effort to overcome such tragedies and move forward with our lives.
Sarah Watt also examines how people’s lives connect through momentary meetings and events that occur unexpectedly, by chance and coincidence. Watt explores the idea that we all share similarities that bring our lives together in some form or another. The parallel stories of the characters in the film reveal that the connection comes from factors including our emotional joy, grief, reflection and isolation. Loss and segregation is presented as a major factor that contributes to the connection between two people - whether it be for healing or support it seems to intertwine the human spirit. Watt portrays that our connections also come from the foundations of love, suffering, and occupation.
Q2. What techniques does Watt use to illustrate the connections between her characters?
Watt connects her characters through the train accident involving the death of Rob. All the characters are going through hard times in their lives and the movie shows the contrast in which the individuals chose to overcome such difficulties. The parallel narratives (such as Julia and Meryl, Nick and the train driver) link the characters together by exploring the similarities between their situations, emotions and ways of coping. The animations and photomontages assist in connecting Meryl and Nick by showing their inner fears through the use of imagery.
The musical interludes continually played throughout the film also acts as a representation for the connection between the individual lives of certain characters in the film. Through this music we are able to identify the connection between the grief felt by both Julia and the Train Driver. As well as the loneliness and helplessness felt by Anna, Andy, Meryl and Nick and the feeling of hope and happiness all the characters experience on conclusion of the film. The use of symbolism similarly illustrates the links many characters share between one another’s lives. For example, the reoccurring images of flowers and graves resemble the connection the majority of the characters have with death and loss.
Q3. Explain how our individual subjective experiences can be put into context by ‘the big picture’.
When referring to the big picture we are discussing life itself, along with human existence. Our individual experiences can be put into context by this big picture because these are the incidents that make up our life experiences and furthermore assist in the formation of our self existence. The small journeys that we take develop values and opinions which are implanted within our society and assist in the way us, as human beings, exist. The idea that life goes on, and the metaphoric symbol of the birds reinforcing this, implies that despite our individual journeys and tragedies that we are forced to deal with, nature around us goes on, and will continue to do so.
The film also explores the impact the individual experience of one person can have in relation to expressing the ‘big picture’ to another. The experience Nick encounters when he is forced to confront the shock and devastation cancer can have on his life not only acts as an eye opener for him individually but also influences the lives of those around him. The abruptness of the disease and the ability it has to end a life so quickly and unexpectedly allows characters including Phil and Andy to recognise that life offers no second chances when faced with death. Nicks experience allows these characters to understand the bigger picture of life and appreciate that there’s more to life than work and stress. Therefore, to fulfill their life aspirations they need to enjoy and embrace what they already have.
by Sam & Hannah