I have a little mental game I play every now and then to help me visualize my mortality and the impermanence of all things. It’s easy. Close your eyes and think about how in one hundred years no one who ever knew you today will still be alive. Then, think about how in five hundred years there will be almost no proof at all that you ever existed. All your possessions will be dust, all the records that prove you had been alive will be gone, even your tombstone will be a forgotten relic, if your grave hasn’t been paved over to make a parking lot that is. In a million years the human race, and everything it has ever created, will be gone. In a billion years the Earth will no longer habitable and all life will die. In five billion years the Earth will be incinerated as the sun becomes a red giant, pulls us into its orbit and consumes anything that time may have missed. Then, in one quadrillion years, give or take a few eons, the remnant sun will no longer produce enough gravity to keep the remaining planets in orbit and everything that we ever knew will be gone, forever and ever. It will be as if the entire human race and solar system had never been, just one more star blinking out of existence in the night sky that nobody will notice.
It’s kind of hard to worry about the debt ceiling when things are put into that sort of grand perspective huh? Still, I don’t see this sort of thinking as nihilistic. Because no matter what the future holds, we matter, everything we do matters. It matters primarily because we exist now and making the most out of the time that we have does in fact mean something. Existence is one long never ending funeral, nothing we do can ever change that, but we can at least give the universe something to eulogize, and something is always better than nothing.
So, if you could record something that someone might see long after you’re gone, what would you say? How would you explain your life, your world, yourself? Would you talk about profound things? Like, for example, the meaning of life, or the eternal struggle between good and evil, or the mystery of the soul. Or would you talk about the little things? Like the first time you read a book and the images in your head were so powerful that it made you dizzy with the act of creation?
What would you say? How would you choose to say goodbye?
Some movies, you just don’t know how you feel about them. All you know is that they managed to reach in past all your defenses and touch the very heart of you. You know that they are something, and that being something is always better than being nothing. Most movies, good or bad, you forget about after a while. You may really like them when you first see them, talk about them incessantly, show them to all your friends, but you end up not watching them again for fifteen years then seeing them on sale at Wal-Mart for five dollars and thinking “Eh… too much!” It was a passing fad, it was… nothing.
The movie Love is something. That much I can say.
Only marginally science-fiction, and then only because the main character spends several years trapped in space. Love is really about trying to express the entirety of the human condition using only words.
Sometime in the near future Astronaut Lee Miller is sent to get the abandoned International Space Station back into operating condition, but is then stranded in orbit for reasons that we, not he, quite understand. Under him we see the Earth rocked with explosions and all the lights of all the world’s cities go out, forever. He is alone, the last man, the human race is dead and gone. It’s obvious to us, but he can’t quite admit it to himself. It’s just too much, and he occupies his time by looking through the personal effects of previous astronauts, trying to invent stories behind old pictures, trying to maintain his sanity, trying to maintain hope. Sometimes he is visited by the ghosts of his imagination and memory. He knows they’re not real, but they’re all he has. He speaks to them, and they in return give advice and comfort.
What truly captivates him is an old civil war era diary he finds onboard. It was written by a Union soldier who’s been in several battles where he was the only survivor. Perhaps it’s this long dead man’s plight of watching all his friends die that Miller can empathize with, or perhaps it’s the mystery of the last few pages where the man was sent to seek out a strange object in the desert. There the diary ends, and nothing is revealed. What did the man find? What did he see? It drives Miller nearly mad not to know, but it also keeps him going.
Love can sometimes be a bit clumsy with its non-linear ideas, the low budget shows, and it has too many scenes with the main character sort of just sitting there musing idly. Yet, I didn’t really care about any of that. I felt that it flew by with the sheer scope of its ideas. The film is a grand epitaph to the human race and everything beautiful that sprung from it.
Love is a film that was perfectly named. If that doesn’t make sense now, it will after you’ve seen it.