So I was watching “Pearl Harbor” last night and I finally reconciled with the movie or, to better say, rather than the movie, I reconciled with a certain way of looking at things, a certain way of feeling, an inner peace that I did not have before.
I first watched “Pearl Harbor” when it came out, in 2001. I hated every minute of it. What made me hate it most was the love triangle story and how it was presented to us. I hated its cheesiness, which I found simple, cheap and even offensive to my aesthetic and ethic sense.
(But I was a completely different person back then).
Last night, watching that movie, I could still see how magnificently flawed it is, what a bad movie it is, without justification. It is pompous, self-complacent to an onanistic degree; it is painfully arrogant and pretentious; it is ridiculously baroque, it is unnecessarily lengthy, and oftentimes boring. Yes, it is cheesy, packed with cheap lines (“Every night I watch the sunset and soak up every last ray of its warmth, and send it from my heart to yours”) that nobody save a fifteen-year-old girl overflowing with dreams and hormones can hear without blushing profusely. Yes, Michael Bay is still a mediocre, one-trick-pony videoclip maker who once thought he could direct an epic movie. Yes, “Pearl Harbor” tries so hard to be “Titanic” and “Tora, tora, tora!” and we all know from the start it’s going to be neither, it’s almost sad to watch it fail. Yes, the only real good piece of cinema contained in it is the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and a regular home tv set puts it back to its real measure, it doesn’t look that good, that cinematographic, that loud, that real.
However, there still is beauty in that movie. And it is the beauty of feelings. The love triangle is a fictitious one, yes, but, couldn’t it have been real, or could it not be real? I’ll rephrase that: it is real, feelings are real, complicated relationships are real. People deliver cheesy lines sometimes, and we do so because we’re humans. We’re struggling to build bridges with each other all the time. I will freely admit that I sometimes cringe on watching those scenes and on hearing those dialogs. But perhaps I do so only because I don’t want to see myself, a part of me reflected in it. Because expressing our feelings leaves us naked, vulnerable, exposed, sometimes embarrassed of ourselves, insecure. And still, we take those steps, we speak our mind and our heart.
On a more general level, I reconciled with that movie, not for the movie per se (I can honestly live happily without watching it again) but for what it represents. Many people pay an amount of money -and it is a money that isn’t spent on any basic need for living- to watch that exact kind of movie. More still: to watch that kind of love story. More still: to hear those cheesy lines, and to relish them, to repeat them in their minds, to dream of them. Many people will never have anyone express that kind of feeling to them. Many people will never know what true love is, what it means to abandon yourself, to let go of yourself, to get immersed in something new and disarming. It is disarming because you are forced out of all your old self. And, paradoxically, you are left with nothing but yourself. The core of you. At first, it will be hard to recognize yourself in the debris that is left. But you do, and you realize that it is no debris, it is rather a precious treasure that was lying under many layers of dirt and mud.
Do we all want that? No! Most of us would be too scared to go for it, if we knew. Most of the people who dream of those perfect love stories served to us in a movie only see the easy part, the pre-metamorphosis part. And that’s all right. That’s what they pay for, that’s what they get. It isn’t a Hollywood movie; it is real. what the movie is giving you is only a weak reflection of the real thing. But if that’s what you want, if that’s the matter that your dreams are made of, then someone should be able to manufacture it for you. If you have never had that dream turned into a reality, then at least you should be able to keep dreaming your dream for as long as you wish.
Everyone needs a dream, and everyone needs beauty.
And that’s why movies like “Pearl harbor” and I can live on the same planet in peace and mutual understanding.