running on parallel time
A couple Sundays ago, I took some time off to be by myself. Work the week before that frazzled by nerves, and the weekend before that was a social, noisy, one – movies, lunches, a full-day of music at Laneway Festival (LOVE. FEIST.)
I’m not anti-social, and I miss company and companionship when either is absent for too long. But I enjoy solitude – the space and time to let your thoughts roam, to listen and see.
So that Sunday, I ran an errand, bought a book, went to a café and read over coffee, and watched “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”, which is probably the perfect movie if you’re in the mood for solitude: sparse dialogue, camera lingering on the characters’ faces, an intricate plot that unfolds quietly, tension and melancholy.
The woman next to me fell asleep, and I actually heard faint snoring from the row behind me. But I was enraptured. After a day spent by myself, watching other people and then reading a book of byzantine intrigues, I felt like a spy myself.
I have a simple criterion for movies: I need to be “pulled in”; when the movie ends, I need to pull myself back into the waking world. I admire the technique and artistry it takes to achieve such an effect on people. I love the magic of leaving the world behind for a couple hours and coming back, slightly changed by the experience. “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” does this very well – I could practically smell the damp London air.
Solitude is the same. I feel part and not part of my immediate surroundings. I set the pace, walk in a narrative of my own imagination and choosing, listening to my internal soundtrack. When I emerge back into the social world, it’s like leaving the cinema – your eyes adjust the light, you move sluggishly like you’ve forgotten how, your voice sounds foreign. Like waking from a dream.
P.S: Those who love Gary Oldman – a man whose colourful credits include "Leon", "The Fifth Element", "Dracula", "Air Force One" (HAHAH), the Harry Potter movies, "The Dark Knight" "Kungfu Panda 2" (!) – should read this Q&A in NYT; wonderful for the way he describes the movie, and, you know, because it’s him.
Picture by jack english via beyond hollywood