I’m so unfit right now it’s changing my movie experience. The old me, the one who could walk up a flight of stairs without stopping for a breather, used to revel in post apocalyptic ‘nightmares’, relate to the Will Smiths of the I Am Legend type movies, or wish my plane down over some undiscovered island where I could shed life’s societal shackles and get down to the good old business of survival.
I used to watch movies like The Revenant and think ‘shit, that looks tough, but I bet I could survive that better’. I mean, I’d definitely have handled the bear attack differently, but every man has his own plan in case of a bear attack – just like we have a plan for a lion attack, or what we’d do if there was a snake in our car, or a shark circling us out in the backline, so who am I to judge Leo’s.
My point is I used to relate to the lead survivors of movies. I don’t have a saviour complex, or wish to lead some motley crew of surviours through the abandoned streets of Cape Town CBD (that kind of happens every weekend anyway), I just always positioned myself with the survivors. As one of the humans who would survive a world changing event. Now I relate more to the fat kid with freckles, asthma, and a limp that gets caught by mall security.
I attempted to rationalise my situation the other day, in that as one get’s older there’s less of a need to flee. You’re wiser, your body is hardened, and you should be able to out think a younger foe. Why waste energy running when you can stand and defend yourself. I was pretty chuffed with this argument, until I remembered I have absolutely no fighting skills. My fighting career can be condensed into two dive-bar dance floor brawls that were probably rather embarrassing to watch.
Of course this has changed my movie watching experience drastically. Coward hiding out in the closet while his friends deal with a knife-wielding murderer in a mask, that’s me. Need someone to drive to the nearest town for help? I got you. How about stay back in case help comes? No worries, I’ll hold the fort. I’m all about energy efficient survival my friend.
This got me thinking about how I’ll relate to movie characters as I get older. Forget the smart talking, six pack sporting, woman slaying hero, I’m taking the side of the crippled butler warning the hero to sit this one out, or at least pack a jacket for the cold.
I don’t know what this will do for my enjoyment levels; constantly questioning the decisions of the hothead shoot-from-the-hip protagonist. I doubt I’ll feel like I’ve received my moneys worth at the end of every 120 minutes, what with only being able to relate to the few short scenes in which the sage old man appears, but I’ll probably feel better about the state of my failing heart and disappearing muscles.
I’ve thought about some of my favourite movies and how differently I’ll relate to them in a few years.
Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (the one with Kevin of course). Where’s King Richard? Fucking nowhere until there’s a wedding right in the last minutes of the movie. Then the old bastard arrives to crack a joke, give away the bride, and get hammered on the beer old Fryer Tuck almost lost his life defending.
Waterworld, shut the front door. I’m backing the loon in the balloon. You only see him for about five minutes in the entire film, but you know what, he’s not fighting Smokers, using himself as bait to catch shark wales, drowning in quicksand, or being shot at (and hit) literally thousands of times. No, the old dude is sitting pretty up there. He has the power of flight man! He’s above all the madness and death.
Top Gun. Let’s be honest, Maverick is an arsehole and completely irresponsible. Besides the reckless flight moves, buzzing the control tower is not only against the rules, but seriously endangers all personal working in it. A few of them probably have kids. Who thinks of that sort of thing in these movies? I do nowadays.
And just look at that smug bastard Gandolf in Lord of The Rings. The dude basically sat in a library for decades getting high on his pipe while his younger counterparts traversed the most perilous lands on earth battling things you can’t even imagine, wondering into wastelands and haunted forests, most of them dying along the way, while he flew on giant eagles and caught up on some history.
What about Point Break? Pappas is the man. He’s definitely drunk on the job. Why stay sober when Utah is running around shooting his gun in the air and jumping out of planes without a parachute. Fuck sake, no wonder the FBI wanted him out. Roadhouse? Sam Elliot kills it as the old dude. He’s chilled chatting to waitresses while Swazye takes roundhouse kicks to the face.
Basically, my entire outlook on movies is changing, and I’m totally fine with it. Things are way easier hiding in the garage, chilling at base camp, handling the research and logistics side of survival, or just straight out warning young people about doing the things they are obviously going to do. Old dudes kill it. Or rather they sit back and let the youngsters do all the heavy lifting and murdering while they mind the food and transistor radio. A job I feel I’m far better suited for now.