the movie “Her” + mapping emotional landscapes

By bonnie, 19 January, 2014

I saw “Her” last weekend and I have big feelings about it. This is not a review.

I was not sure what to say about how intensely it moved me, but in trying to figure out what and how I wanted to say it, I began tracing the edges of the parts of me that lit up like the tiny lightbulbs in mouse-testing mazes. You know when the mouse finds it’s way through the maze and pushes the little lever to get food? Or sometimes also when the mouse goes the wrong way and brushes up against the warning barriers, sounds and lights?

There are specific films that do this to me. The emotional centers in my brain are a tiny creature in a maze. Barriers and levers. All buzzing, pushing buttons. Lighting shit up.

“Her” hits on so many levels.

In tracing the edges of this, I kept running into other films, other impressions and scars and ecstatic memories. So I made a thing. A map. (pictured above) Here are those films and the places they have in common between them.

Films that got inside me: (in a similar/somehow overlapping way to “Her”)
Good Will Hunting
Say Anything
Almost Famous
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Me and You and Everyone We Know
Wonder Boys
Angels in America
Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight
Lost in Translation
Stranger Than Fiction
500 Days of Summer

(I didn’t think to add these two to my chart at the time, but they belong there).
Reality Bites
Like Crazy

Points of entry that many of their contents, ideas + themes share with “Her” and overlap/share with others on the list:
emotional honesty
finding connections
intimacy issues
quirky or random humor
being an artist, writer or musician
emotional survival dependent on growth or change
letting go of heartbreak or heartache
isolation and/or loneliness
joy, excitement, passion for life
cities, urban space + landscape as an integral part of the film
notable scene on public transit, bus, train or in a car
notable scene on a rooftop or balcony
notable scene in a diner
notable scene on a beach or involving water 

If my brain works like a maze, perhaps the rest of me goes to see film for the exact same reasons I love wandering around both cities and deep forests, across beaches and in and out of deep water. Making trails. Drawing lines. Putting myself in context and crashing into real things, natural things. The truest things.

It might be hard to see where I draw all that with ink up there, but it’s all there. The things that matter. The relationships in these films – between people, between people and spaces, between people and the truth, between people and themselves. Between me and all of those things and their worlds and my world.

The best art, to me, tells the rawest truths AND is capable of scrambling my reality. So this map is completely accurate, by the way.

I think 2014 is going to be a year of new cartography + geography for me in my work. More to come. Welcome to the inside of my head.


One Comment

  1. Decklin says:

    You might find this work interesting:

    for the ideas on user interface/abstraction research, but also just for the film writing/IMDb comments.

What do you think?

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