What does a storyteller have to do to make us feel their story? Last year, there were so many films that made us really feel what the story was trying to say. The films that I felt the most were; The Revenant, Spotlight, Room, Steve Jobs and Inside Out.
We feel story through the understanding of truth being revealed and it affirming something within us. It is all about the internal view of the external story. We feel story when we’re taken into a life moment that we may not recognize on the outside but that we completely understand internally. It is fulfilling a void through finding a solution. If we know what the internal struggle is and the arc of healing the wound is explored well, we feel the conflict and triumph in the outcome. When we understand what the filmmaker is trying to say, we feel the story.
The Revenant is about the true story of legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass surviving a brutal attack by a bear. This is what it is on the outside. Internally, it is about finding answers and moving forward after suffering tremendous loss mentally, emotionally and physically. It is poetic in how it’s done, with the scenes from a moment of loss that happened before the story starts connecting to one that happens during the story. The arc of healing the wound is beautifully played. It is graphic and extremely violent. However, this really sends home what it is to survive. I was mesmerized by this story. I felt so connected to the journey back from loss, betrayal and torture. How do you find redemption in this type of scenario? Will redemption bring you peace? There were so many elements of humanity revealed in this masterpiece directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. It penetrated both the mind and the spirit.
Spotlight tells a riveting story based on the Pulitzer Prize winning Boston Globe investigation that uncovered the enormous scandal of child molestation and cover-ups within the local Archdiocese, causing an upheaval in one of the world’s most trusted institutions. It is an amazing story to watch how all the pieces of the puzzle in this journalistic endeavor came together. What brings you into the story emotionally is that many of the journalists covering it up grew up Catholic. So, we got to see their personal challenges within this exploration of truth. The cast is phenomenal. The story is enthralling. This issue is something that hits us all on a universal level.
Room is another incredible story of survival. It explores the depth of the connection between a mother and her son after going through the horrific ordeal of the mother being abducted and impregnated by her captor and living in one room for the first five years of her son’s life before her son helps them to escape. The wound is crystal clear. The imagination of the son and how this moves him through the experience is awe-inspiring. The psychological effect of only knowing the relationship with his mom and having no understanding of the world outside of the room is truly moving. The reintegration into life is what we root for. The idea explored is; can you move past a trauma of this magnitude and find meaning and purpose again? This experience may be foreign to us, but the idea of moving past a severe trauma is very universal. It is the internal story that brings us in and makes us feel for both of these characters. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay give brilliant performances. This is a story that will stay with you.
Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of one of the world’s greatest innovators. It explores the digital revolution and shows us what life looked like for Steve Jobs during three iconic product launches. There are several scenes in this film written by Aaron Sorkin that are mind-blowing. It is the internal view of Steve Jobs that makes us feel this story. This is shown through the relationship with a daughter he initially denied was his, the reveal that he was adopted, his views toward feeling rejected and the dynamic with his loyal colleague, Joanna (played brilliantly by Kate Winslet). We feel his wound in the scene where John Sculley says; “Why do people who were adopted feel like they were rejected instead of selected?” For me, it is the parallel between his feeling about this life incident that happened and how it happened and what goes on with his daughter that made me understand this man in a whole new way. I came into this film wanting to know more about who Steve Jobs was and what made him tick. I LOVED how I felt after seeing this film. I loved it so much that I saw it twice.
Inside Out is a whimsical view into the emotional life of young Riley whose world is turned upside down when her parents tell her that they are going to move. What makes us feel this story is the interplay between her emotions; Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness that are all embodied by characters. I LOVED this movie because it really stops isolation and builds a sense of community through the understanding of how our internal emotions influence our external life. We’ve all gone through a myriad of these emotions. Seeing them come to life and try to make sense of the pursuit that they’re on to ultimately make Riley happy is a gift. It also shows us that we need to move through and understand all of our emotions to help guide us to where we want to go in life. I love the message. I felt the story. This is a film that touches us all no matter what our age.
We feel your story when the storyteller gives us an inside view of the conflict in question through the worldview of the central character and when we understand what you are trying to say with your story. It is the internal view of a character that pulls us in emotionally and makes us identify with what is being explored.