I’m am not one of those people who can understand nor could conceive nor implement figurative interpretations in film, music, literature, performance or art.
I can not begin to comprehend how Martin Scorcese had the creativity or competency to use Xs throughout The Departed to indicate death to certain characters. If it hadn’t been pointed out to me, I am almost certain that I would never have picked it. I’m far too caught up in the actual movie to go searching for themes.
Criminally, I have never read, seen or otherwise absorbed A Street Car Named Desire. But I recently had the opportunity to read, upside down, the study notes to it, belonging to a girl studying on the train recently. I was boggled at page after page of interpretation. Class issues, social issues, sex, ownership and all manner of deep issues were explored and portrayed through figurative acts. Throwing a lump of meat at a woman states sexual proprietorship. When I do get around to absorbing the classic that is Desire, I will be too busy trying to keep up with the story.
It goes further… When I discussed this post I was writing with my wife, she told me of her own experience of interpretation. Within Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Belle is seen in her room of the palace with shadows from the window falling across her, giving a sense of her imprisonment. While searching for a reference for this, I came across this corker which talks in depth about Beauty and the Beast being a film about AIDS. Are we to believe that Disney went out of their way to make a film about AIDS? Does the author of that webpage truly believe that Beauty and the Beast is about AIDS, or am I naive in thinking that’s a bridge too far?
I’ve included these examples to lead me to my point: Scorcese had intent, Arthur Miller may have meant to tackle social issues, but did Disney really mean to make a children’s movie about AIDS? Where do the creator’s intentions end and our own prejudices and opinions begin?
I recently attended a business coaching session (keep reading, I’m not selling anything here and I attended under duress) where we were asked to write down a solution for a problem. We were to address the English soccer team’s failings. We were prompted by a sentence starter; “To improve England’s performance, Fabio Capello should do more [insert thought] and less [insert thought].”
It turns out that in the
motivational coach/speaker’s mountebank’s opinion whatever we wrote was actually a solution for our own personal turmoil. So, when we offer an interpretation, are we actually offering our own beliefs?
I’ve decided to make my own interpretation of something. I am convinced that I lack the creativity to either interpret or put in place the sort of metaphor or symbolism that the critics and academics can find, but, I’ve started, I’ve had a go. I’ve begun a journey of interpretation. Starting with this photo.
It’s an horrific photo. I love cats. But, wether the photographer meant to or not, when I look at it, I start to see themes. I see the white car, slinking out of frame, full of guilt, like it just ran over the cat. The black car, look ominous and sinister, invoking threat. So, have I put my own feelings into this photo, or have I accurately observed the photographers intent?
Therein-lies the question. How many observations, critiques and interpretations are actually the creator’s intention, accurately translated, and how many are just people just making, stuff, up?