Wednesday, July 13, 2005

How do you create a legacy?

I'd never thought about movie and actor/actress legacies prior to reading this article. I have my DVD collection, growing every month, and a story or feeling behind each title on the shelf. Currently, i have them alphabetized by title, but I've contemplated re-arranging them and my cd collection in an autobiographical order. But, how long would that take? Surely i have better things to do with my time - or maybe it would be a never-ending project.

In the aforementioned article, David Ansen analyzes each of the biggest stars and stacks their portfolios against those of earlier movie stars. I agree with some of his insights, disagree with others, and admit that i haven't seen most of the movies he refers to - maybe i'm not as much a movie-buff as i had thought. that's not it either. i never saw most of the movies because they didn't appeal to me. does that mean i cannot relate to some of Brad Pitt's or Tom Cruise's characters? Do i not appreciate Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman? No, it means i'm neither David Ansen nor the Academy Award Selection Committee.

The movies i have in my collection, like those that i will undoubtedly add in the future, mean something to me. i relate to a specific character, want to live like another, and all the others speak to me as if they were an internet best friend. every time i watch and re-watch each of them, the conversations get to another point i'd never considered. i'm introduced to something new. i find something i'd missed before. or maybe, it's me that's changed, and, now, i have something to add to the conversation when i once would have stayed silent.

That's why i'd never be able to finish arranging these movies into autobiographical order - each one represents something new to me every time i see it. most of the movies on my shelf i bought because i'd seen it in the theater while on a first date. in some ways, it was like holding on to something that i'd never put into my box of memories. they would always be close at hand. and each time i saw those films after the relationship, it did bring to the surface feelings i'd long-since forgotten, but i was watching them from behind new eyes and thinking about them having lived through new experiences. each time, the characters and their motivations were just a little skewed by my own personality.

Some actors will definitely be remembered while others will no doubt fall through the cracks that only a DVD can fit - but so must we all. each movie has multiple messages and aspirations, most of which may never even come to light for most audiences. most people see a movie because their friends are talking about it or they want to kill a Sunday afternoon. They let the entertainment value wash over them and forget everything else. it's what they want to forget that makes the movie memorable to that person. sometimes a movie will bring it back up, despite the viewer's efforts, sometimes, it clouds the issue even more. sometimes it defines what we thought was indefinable. the movie will still end. the actor will still die. the message, though, once seen by one, and then re-told to a friend, never dies. the message, though, changes with the messenger. the movies that stand long enough to pass-by their headliners, have the greatest reach into the future. and that touch is sometimes the pat on the back of the next generation of actors and actresses. that's how a movie or an actor/actress becomes a legacy - who it touches in the end.