I know, dude, this is a really strange thing for a filmmaker to say, eh?
Look, cinema is a DARK DARK art okay? You can get people used to all kinds of dehumanizing nonsense by showing them IMAGES of it first.
No one knows this better than Muslim hijab-wearing women.
And I’ve been studying and working with cinema now a good ten years. Yeah I’m old. Never you mind how old I am! Just kidding, I’m 34 this year. Growing old is a privilege.
The standard method of creating, at least the way I’ve been taught, is to have a theme.
What is a theme, you ask, assuming you are one of the many lambs my kind lead to slaughter.
It is the ‘meaning’ of the film/show. The question we try to explore. Its essence. Its beating heart.
The more robust the heart, the better the show/film. The more the theme permeates every aspect of the film/show’s existence, the more enjoyable it is to watch. You feel like you’re in good hands. You relax. You enjoy the ride. You binge-watch.
You turn off your thinking brain.
Don’t do that, my love. You’ll drive into a ditch.
Because films and TV always have to leave out SOMETHING. That something is usually something really important.
This is because neither form can tolerate that level of complexity (at least not yet). The real world has multiple layers to it. The world in entertainment can only have a few, otherwise it would cease to be entertaining and just life. And nobody wants to watch life.
The most important questions is…what is the creator of this piece of art leaving out?
Take for example the show Dark.
It is essentially about the inevitability of destiny. This is not destiny delivered from God. It is genetic destiny. Sons are doomed to walk in their fathers’ footsteps. We cannot escape our family’s trauma. We cannot outrun grief. We simply cannot let the people we love go. Even if we escape to another time period. Even if we escape to another dimension.
There is no God in Dark, only time. Which no one worshiped, but everyone tried to control.
There is also no therapy in the world of Dark. Which, given some effort, could have solved all of its problems. But then what do I know?
You see? In order for the TV show to work, you have to leave out something. The creators of this show chose to leave out joy, hope, trust, the acceptance stage of the grieving process, etc.
If I hadn’t stop to think, I wouldn’t have recognized that.
So now what do I do?
I make du’a before I read or watch something, even if it is only a tiny Youtube video or article. (Or at least I intend to. There’s so much content everywhere, that mindfulness will take some practice).
I ask Allah (God) to show me what the creators have left out. I remind myself that all power belongs to Him and we will all return to Him. I confirm that He is the only One who can change my condition. This is a affirmation of my values.
I also try not to watch things for too long. I make notes every so often on what I like and what I hate.
Dark is a beautiful TV show. It was densely and thickly plotted. I loved that time was a tight knot and I loved following along as each strand unravelled.
But as I’ve said above – no God, no joy, no love that doesn’t immediately destroy itself. What a well, DARK, way to live.
Anyway, this is what I do or try to. Be interesting to hear what you think.