Spoiler alert: This blog talks, in depth, about the film Boyhood.
Sometimes in life, things happen and they change your perspective.
I walk around London all day, past so many people all the time. And I think to myself ‘sometimes we have to crash into people to feel anything’ (that quote from the film Crash) and it’s so true! We are all so focused on ourselves, getting from A to B and ‘the next’ whatever, both figuratively and literally, y’know, like actually reaching a physical destination but also say, a life goal or target.
So I just watched Boyhood.
‘I thought there would be more’
And it hit me like a lightening bolt.
This is it people!
Whatever it is now. This moment. This life. This existence.
My mind started racing.
“So from now on, this is it. I’m doing whatever the hell I want to do because this is all there is.” As I realised that life is a series of moments and opportunities that present themselves to you. You might miss one and be lucky enough to get it again but these moments are passing and fleeting.
In short. Life is short.
My mind was screaming at me: “Do everything you want to do because THIS IS IT.”
And I wondered to myself “at what point do we stop living?” You know, is there a point in life when we’re no longer actively living? Is this an age thing or a career thing? My thinking is, maybe in order to have these lightbulb or aha moments or simply moments of clarity, we must’ve switched down a gear and started coasting right? Don’t get me wrong, if life was full on all the time maybe it would be too much but I hope I never get to a point where I look back my life and wonder ‘what the hell happened?’ (to all of my hopes, dreams and ambitions).
The Film Perspective:
The concept is unique. A lot of films take place over time but the dedication and commitment of the cast and crew to keep this going for 12 years is unreal! It 100% paid off.
‘I thought there would be more’
Why was this quote so profound to me?
Well, it’s been a few years since I actually interpreted a film – Film Studies degree over here 🙋 – but to me, that sentence, that scene was me realising that the 10 years in the film reflect some of my own experiences of growing up, and more than that, how my life could be. I’ve been so busy focusing on the future, the next (prescribed) step that I hadn’t even stopped to reflect, or look back or realise that this is it.
To me, it was her realisation (the mum) that she’s done everything she needed to do to survive and get to where she is, and now she’s there, now what? What’s it all for anyway?! And I guess it can be terrifying / liberating because her life is hers again now. And for the kids, their lives are their own now – in a way that she never had, but what was it all for?
Which I guess ties in with the idea of the quarter life crisis. When my mum was my age now, she was already married and had me, and the fact that I am nowhere near that stage is kind of scary, or unsettling at first, but actually we (I) should be screaming from the rooftops because our lives are ours at a much earlier stage and for much longer so we should grab this opportunity.
It’s also interesting to see how the mum and dad started together, down one path and the difference in their lives. He grows up (finally) but doesn’t really change, and gets a second chance at marriage, parenting etc. whereas the mum focuses really hard on studying and education to get to where she wants to be, to have a ‘family’ by marrying a couple of different guys along the way – which also reminds us how disappointing life and people can be at times – the people you think you know and how life changes us all, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. And the way that life chips away at us and wears us down from these bright young things in to cynical, hard people. We forget all of the big dreams and plans we had, who we wanted to be. That fearlessness that comes with youth.
I guess this was mentioned in the bar scene towards the end. When you’re first dating and you’re so young / naive / short sighted / hopeful / optimistic and you think ‘this is it’ – forever. But as you get older life teaches you lessons along the way that changes these ideas, hopes, dreams, fantasies and realities.
Culturally – this film was my childhood. Maybe I was little older because some of the stuff was more applicable to my sister who’s a couple of years younger. But I remember the first time I ever saw the iPod advert on TV. I wanted one! I was completely entranced by those black outlines dancing to changing coloured backgrounds with bright white headphones and some stuff that happened made me think ‘noooooooo! That can’t have been that long ago!’ like the Obama campaigning. It reminded me how quickly time flies and just exactly how much has happened in the past 10 years!
Looking back over the last 10 years in cultural, political and personal terms (reflecting on the life events that have shaped my life and got me to this point), the amount of landmark events and things that have happened, it’s unbelievable. This film reminds you of the bits you forget (because it’s impossible to remember it all and it’s draining to think about it all at once!), it reminds you that you’re not alone – everyone goes through the same stuff and for me, and my generation, this film speaks volumes. This is our film because these are our lives.
It also acts as a reminder of everything major that’s happened and shaped our lives without us evening realising. And it reminds us what it was to be young, the ups and downs – it’s not that easy, even though they’re some of our best years – and maybe they’re only our best years on reflection, maybe we just didn’t realise it. And then there’s the consciousness. The realisation what our lives have become in relation to technology. Can you live without your phone anymore? I mean, I’m sitting here typing this up on my phone, when did this happen?
It makes you think about how we change over time how we start thinking abstractly and how reality sets in – the realisation about ourselves and our lives. How and where do I fit in? That awkward not-really-a-child-but-not-an-adult-yet stage. Figuring ourselves out. Who do we want to be? I love that along the way, the film asks ‘what kind of person do you want to be’ because that’s a question I have started thinking way more intensely about recently. What kind of life do I want to have? Now that I’m older and hopefully wiser, who do I want to be?
I think it’s important that the film parallels with the parental lives because it reminds us that we have an active choice in the direction our lives take. It’s important too because it shows us what our lives could be within the next 5-10 years but are we really ready for that (kids, marriage, a house/mortgage) in our mid twenties? I guess ultimately, we’re all individuals so we’re all going to be ‘ready’ for different things at different times and maybe we’re never really ‘ready’ but that’s because if you spent all of your time waiting to be ready instead of simply living and just doing it, you might never actually do it.
The first time I watched this film I was thrown into a total tail spin for 2 days, in which I relived the last 10 years of my life. So much has happened! It’s actually kinda crazy really. I spent time recalling what I’d done, who I’d been, what did I want to be? Did I really made the most of it? Thinking back to those milestone moments and I guess things that happened in my life that have probably shaped me today way more than I ever realised. And then questioning how I can make the most of the future while still living in the moment and still remembering to remember everything so that I can look back and appreciate it all some day. All this remembering is tiring!
I think it’s hard to make the most of these years because you’re young and unaware, and you don’t realise how good and important they are, and how fundamental they will be in shaping your future. I guess the only thing you can really do, is take all of those experiences with you and learn from them. I still think it’s good to reflect and remember so you can see how much progress you’ve made, and how far you’ve come in life.