Partially inspired by my viewing of the Oscar-nominated movie, “The Two Popes,” I’ve decided to write this monthly essay about “The Two Moviegoers.” Only in the case of my essay I’m talking about one person (not two, not really). I want to write about myself as a movie fan both before my severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and after. I am the same person decidedly but my experience as a moviegoer and movie fan is definitely different.
I have always been the kind of person who could escape from the doldrums of life through the use of my imagination. I remember first reading a novel and feeling that any interruption from reading it was almost violent. Each word I read of the novel tethered me to that world and any interruption or separation from my book was like cutting those tethers. As years went on and reading became more important to me and more necessary for my happiness, instead of each written word connecting me with a tether made of fabric or thread, I became connected to everything I read through practically a connective tissue.
Then as I grew older I found an appreciation for film and I connected to it in much the same way. I loved how a film was the coming together of many people with varying talents. From the screenwriter, director and actors to cinematographer, set designers and composer. Instead of being the artistic expression of one person, like a novel, a film was a gathering of creative souls to tell one story.
And so I moved through life reading books and watching movies and feeling more and more tethered (connected) to them. Before the accident over three years ago that caused me to experience a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and coma, I was very connected to everything I read and watched. I’ve always been attracted to books and movies that made me THINK and FEEL. The typical movie I loved made me cry and feel wrung out. And I sought out movies like that. I remember once going to see “The Spectacular Now” (a 2009 movie about first love starring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley) by myself in the theater and waiting for everyone else to leave at the end of the movie because I was SOBBING. 😭 I’m not sure why that movie caused an emotional avalanche. But it did. And it felt good. Weird? Perhaps. But when you’re tethered to books and movies so much so that you feel connected to them, almost physically (see my connective tissue description) it kind of makes sense to have deep feelings about them. As a writer and creative person myself I have always been drawn to books, movies and TV that are centered on good writing. And oftentimes good writing tends to be emotional (in my opinion).
So that was Moviegoer #1: Before the TBI Laura. She was going to emotional movies and feeling big feels. And loving it. The more movies she saw the more she peeled back the layers of cinema and found more things to analyze and more ways to appreciate movies. Analyzing camera shots and techniques, writing styles and techniques and the myriad of other things in movies: music, costumes, set design, etc.
And then, just like in one of those heart wrenching movies she loved to watch, Moviegoer #1/Pre-TBI Laura was in an accident that caused her to suffer a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and be in a coma for three weeks. Once healed enough to enjoy movies again, Moviegoer #1 turned into Moviegoer #2/TBI Laura (current me).
Moviegoer #2/TBI Laura still enjoys movies but it is definitely a different experience. Since my brain injury makes me less emotional (I can’t really cry) it’s a different experience watching emotional movies. I still like to watch them but they certainly don’t affect me in the same way (I’m still not rushing to rewatch “The Spectacular Now” to see if it makes me cry even with my TBI).
The biggest change between the two moviegoers is that my TBI has made my hearing so diminished and distorted and I can’t hear music (you can read more about that here). So that means I’m missing out on a chunk of movies: the music. My hearing is so diminished and distorted that I can’t tell if people have accents, etc. Every voice sounds so distorted and evil. It has really changed how much I watch. And what I watch.
I used to love the dialogue-heavy period films but now that I rely on closed captioning to watch everything it’s harder to enjoy dialogue-heavy movies. Especially if I’m watching the movie in a theater with a closed captioning device (like a CaptiView). The device sits in the cup holder of your chair and a rod holds up a pager 📟 looking device that displays the captions on it. Because the captions aren’t on the screen I feel like I’m spending too much time looking at the CaptiView device and missing all the things I enjoyed about movies (noticing camera shots, lighting, costumes, sets, etc.).
Even though I miss being Moviegoer #1, I’m getting used to being Moviegoer #2.
So far we’ve seen: “The Irishman,” “The Two Popes,” “Little Women,” “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” “Kitbull,” “Hairlove,” and “Klaus.” We still plan to see a few more. We still have some time before February 9th!