Few months back I resolved to choose carefully what I watch and read. I do not have much time, as the time I use for watching movies and reading is obviously time not spent doing my work. I used to lounge in the sofa for about one hour after I come back from work, watching anything played on TV. But I stopped doing that. Now I spend one hour (OK, or three) reading or watching something I really want.
I am currently reading Iliad. The character that most interests me so far is Hector. I admit that I have a preconceived notion about him: von Balthasar (or was it C.S. Lewis?) and Chesterton stated that Hector is the noblest character in the whole Iliad. I am only in the middle of the story, so I cannot yet make up my mind whether Hector should or should not have escaped from the doomed Troy while there was still chance to do so. Hector seems to have known all along that the gods had decided thatTroywas to fall. He also knew that that means he was to die defending Troy, and his beloved wife and little son would be taken as slaves by the Greeks. Why, then, did he not lead his family and his people to escape? I have not read Aeneid, but I read somewhere that it tells how Aeneas, another Trojan hero, led the remnant of Trojans and founded a settlement which we all would later know asRome. Why did Hector not pursue the same path? I do not think he should have been accused of cowardice if he had done that. After all, are not a living people more important than a doomed city? My suspicion is that Hector knew (not only felt, but knew) that it was his fate to die defending Troy. I think fate is an important theme in the Iliad. It seems that the characters in this story thought that fate is unescapable: once the gods decreed something, there was nothing they can do to change it.
I have not watched the movieTroy(2004), and did not plan to, as I read in Wikipedia how far it deviates from the Iliad. But I did see some of its scenes in Youtube. Oh, I love its Hector! He looks stern but gentle. I could not help thinking that that is how Faramir should have been portrayed in a movie.
To continue our discussion with another drama (albeit in a very different scale from the Iliad), I watched Billy Elliot (2000) last Sunday. The movie tells the story of Billy Elliot, a young boy living in a poor area in Durham,UK. Billy’s life seemed bleak: his father and his elder brother worked as mining workers and the workers were in strike, his mother had died recently, and they lived with his frail grandmother. Together with his friends he took boxing lessons, but he was hopeless and not interested in it. Then one day he saw a ballet teacher giving ballet lessons to a group of girls. Before he realized it, Billy had joined them. The story then took the usual course: the teacher found Billy very talented, Billy’s father found out that he took up ballet and was enraged, against all odds Billy made it to the Royal Ballet School and went on to become a famous ballet dancer. What is not usual, in my opinion, is the way the movie shows Billy to us. His face when he finally mastered a ballet technique, his face when he ran and danced in the street, oh, energy burst forth from him.
My favourite scene is the one in which Billy suddenly danced in front of his father. His father had forbidden Billy to continue his ballet lessons, but the teacher agreed to teach Billy privately. One evening, Billy was practicing in a vacant studio when suddenly his father came there and saw him. His father was very angry though he said nothing. Billy was scared and he said nothing, too. Then suddenly, he started moving his feet in a spirited rhythm, and soon he was dancing defiantly (but not furiously). When I saw this scene I smiled and smiled. To me Billy’s defending his love of dancing is no less courageous than Hector’s defending Troy. Oh, how I hope I have something to love as much as Billy love dancing! Then I, too, would stand defiantly defending whatever it is I love.
This scene can be watched in this youtube link:
Having seen his son danced so vigorously, Billy’s father realized that his son was really talented. He then did anything he could to find some money to pay for Billy’s ballet education. He himself took Billy to London for the audition to enter the Royal Ballet School. This brings us to what is perhaps the most famous scene of this movie. At the end of the audition, one examiner asked Billy, “How does it feel when you are dancing?” Billy took long to answer, and when he finally answered, it was just a hesitant “don’t know”. But then he seemed to remember something, and continued, “sort like disappear, like forgetting everything, like flying, like there is something warm in my heart, like electricity. Like electricity.” Well, that rather explains the energy that seems to burst forth from him when he is dancing, doesn’t it?
I begin to worry whether I am normal or starting being a drama queen (but I don’t think I behave dramatically … I only keep all this drama in my imagination).
What about you? Are you easily touched by stories? Are you touched by Hector’s or Billy’s story?