Two nights ago Jiminy said her BFF had made it MANDITORY we watch the new(ish) flick, Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldham as Winston Churchill. As a WW II history buff—inherited from my dad who served stateside but never got overseas because of his lousy eyesight, another inheritance—I was all in. And boy, are you all in. There are many stories about how a skinny Oldham became the puffy bulldog Churchill, but the performance is amazing.
In any event, as references were made to Dunkirk, Ms. Cricket said, “OH OH OH we have to watch Mrs. Miniver, a 1942 film with Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson" and we did so last night. I had heard of the flick, but had never seen it (of course Jiminy is an old movie buff extraordinaire and you would lose every time you bet against her). There is a tangential connection to the Dunkirk operation that is brilliantly and understatedly told—from the rescuers’ perspective, rather than the big-budget movie last year.
What struck me in both films was great storytelling. Darkest Hour takes place over just a couple of weeks, while Mrs. Miniver takes place over couple of years. And each story is unique: Churchill’s rise to Prime Minister at a time of England’s greatest need, and a suburban English family living with the impending and, ultimately, devastating cost of war.
I know there are people out there who go, “YAWN . . . we’ve seen that movie before . . .” But not really. Good storytelling is good storytelling. Character, Obstacle, Conflict, and Stakes. Have we heard these stories before? Yes. In this particular way? Maybe . . . maybe not. I was reminded of a quote from French writer Andre Gide, “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”
As we strive, struggle, and like hormonally-crazed salmon try and return upstream in our creative frenzy, remember that as a painter, a photographer, writer, or designer, we’re re-stating what needs to be re-started. Just re-state it through YOUR lens.