Archive for September, 2010
What was the point of the Pray part? “Learn to forgive yourself” came across strongly but how was that related to Liz getting over the need to conform to other people’s dreams? I think the point of Pray is that once she found her way to herself through joy (Eat), Liz had to really look inside and know herself. She came to realize that she No Longer Fit in the world she created as a pleaser.
Through this part of the journey, Liz needed to see that her gift was with people. Liz brought hope to the young woman she washed floors with and the Texan. Knowing this and embracing it is the step of the journey that needed to be accomplished in India and I didn’t feel this was achieved.
For example, when an elephant approaches Liz it is sweet but it doesn’t seem to pull the story forward. It could have if Liz was Wandering in the Wilderness, wondering how what she was doing was any different from self-indulgent wallowing. If someone had connected the elephant approaching Liz with recognition of her gift for being authentic and showing the way to everyone, it would have been more powerful. Like the elephant, Liz lifts people’s souls.
This was Liz’s growth in her Secret World. Pray was for forgiving herself for the years of suppressing her true self, yes, but it was also for exploring and knowing her gift. We never really understood this. She just moved on…
I liked this movie. It was enjoyable to be along for the ride. Julia Roberts was the perfect choice to play Liz. I`ve seen Elizabeth Gilbert on Oprah and TED, and I was really impressed with how Julia channeled her. Julia is at her best when she is being vulnerable which makes her good in this movie and all Virgin stories. And this is a Virgin story. The Virgin journey of Eat, Pray, Love could be described as a woman who keeps molding herself to what other people are attracted to, while suppressing her gift for exploring and creating bridges for personal transformation. Liz doesn’t just want to be happier, she wants to know what it looks like to go on the journey from miserable to happy and to share this discovery with the world. It is the same drive she has to travel and describe the world to people.
Where the beats of the Virgin`s journey are included, they are sometimes subtle and in a new order which made it interesting. Where the movie missed a beat I think it missed the chance to be a truly great movie. Let’s look at the beats.
The Dependent World is Liz`s need to shape herself into what other people want. She doesn`t know who she is so she tries to be what someone wants. Liz’s Price of Conformity is becoming so depressed she can no longer function in her marriage or her affair and she bails on her life and goes to Rome (Opportunity to Shine). Here she finds a refuge when she can feel her own feelings and she grows stronger (Secret World). The only back and forth is when she speaks to her lover via email and phone and breaks up with him. This is weak but rare.
We see Liz shine when she sits in the pizza restaurant in Napoli and expounds the virtues of really taking in pleasure rather than thinking about being attractive to another. It is a powerful moment when the Virgin realizes she can follow her instinct for pleasure and she can choose her values separate from what others expect from her. This is Liz’s gift – the ability to explore the nature of the Virgin.
I felt the thanksgiving dinner belaboured the point. It was good for Liz to acknowledge she had learned to Dress the Part: allow pleasure to teach her she can make herself feel good and use that good feeling to drive you forward in her journey, even if she had to wear bigger pants. However, she was slightly self-pitying in her toast at dinner and the whole event needed to be shorter. I would have liked to have seen her portrayed as restless because it was a step but not the complete journey. This taste of knowing herself should drive her forward joyfully, or at least hopefully. Otherwise, it wasn’t really clear to me why she didn’t just stay in Rome (and don’t say “you have to read the book”).
This beat keeps getting more and more interesting to me. Why does she need a secret world? I have a theory on this (always).
There are two drives in the human condition, one away from fear and the other towards pleasure. The Hero is focused on the fear drive. He manages to get away from fear by facing it head-on and learning he can survive. He therefore gets psychologically away from fear by entering into an adrenalin rush world of fear inducing problems. It would be silly for the Hero to conquer his fear by finding a secret world (that would actually be the action of the Coward archetype).
It would be equally crazy for the Virgin to explore her sense of joy and self exploration in a frenzied, diverting, terrifying atmosphere. Her journey needs to take place, at least part of the time, in a stress-free zone where the portals to her soul are most open and she can explore her talent, dream or uniqueness. She finds the joy of being in this sanctuary. Creativity needs a low pressure, timeless world and room for exploring joy and passion. (For proof of this see Dan Pink.) Thus the secret world.
This feels big. A foundation of screenwriting is to throw as much hardship at your protagonist as possible. This may need to be rethought.
In a Virgin story the climax will be revealing her joy to the world. Yes she will overcome a fear to do that, but the focus is on the joy of her self discovery.
Yes, the Secret World beat has the fear of discovery as she moves back and forth between the two worlds. But it is also crucial to develop the joy the Virgin is finding while she is in that Secret World. Otherwise the Virgin story will feel flat and only the Hero will shine.
The Secret World does not have to be a physical place she goes to. She can create space for herself just by not telling anyone what she is thinking (as Cinderella does in Ever After). She can create it by adopting an annoying habit that causes people to give her a wide berth, or be touchy which teaches people not to bring up certain subjects. However she does it, the Secret World is a powerful place for the Virgin, and very distinct from the world of the Hero.
My goodness it feels strange to be back in front of my computer. I can’t even think of a good movie I saw. Is it just me or was this an uninspired summer, movie-wise?
But I did enjoy renting tv series.
Glee is a Virgin story every week. Yahoo! One aha moment after the other. The characters begin as misfits (Price of Conformity) in the world they depend on – Highschool, until they have an Opportunity to Shine by joining the Glee Club. They create a Secret World for themselves and have a great time Dressing the Part for various numbers. They move back and forth between their happy times together growing in their sense of their selves and trying to survive highschool (classic Secret world behaviour). They journey to Regionals but the real journey is to grow in their individual values. That’s why winning isn’t always necessary for it to be a good story.
Kurt No Longer fits His World and has a sexual awakening, Finn sings a Virgin themed song It’s My Life and Confessions that is really moving.
Glee is a great example of the power of the Virgin’s Journey even when it is not a compete journey. The beats are engaging individually and in clusters. You can change the order around too. The effect will still be a powerful connection with our emotions.