Normally, I’m not stuck for words. Today, I am. The events of last Friday in Colorado have reverberated around the world, and as you’d expect, taken up plenty of column inches and trending topic graphs and interweb bytes in doing so. Most of us have tried to personalize the event somehow, find some link or connection to it whereby we can try and “find closure” (a phrase which has so little adequacy I almost can’t stand it) to compartmentalize what happened as yet another tragedy over which we have no control. My own story – I was literally walking into the cinema to view The Dark Knight Rises when my accompanying friend rushed up and told me what he’d heard at the concession stand waiting for his popcorn. By the time I’d flicked my phone back on, the Man of Steel trailer had started and I was reading the initial report of the tragedy with mounting horror – like many, I dare say – and was struck by the ferocity and the insanity of what had occurred.
The fact this happened in a crowded cinema, a midnight screening of one of 2012’s most anticipated films, is perhaps ancillary to processing the horror of what happened. The fact that it happened at all should be the focus of our compassion and sorrow. We, as fellow film fans, can understand the buzz and anticipation of that screening, for many of us probably felt the same once the Warners logo came up and the film started; it’s a scenario we’ve encountered ourselves, and I think this is the link to those killed with which we most closely associate. These people weren’t soldiers, they weren’t terrorists, they weren’t law enforcement agents: they weren’t people who would normally be in harms way on a daily basis, and of course, a crowded cinema isn’t the place you’d expect to find a murdering psycho waiting to unleash his insane plan – the events of Aurora (a name so beautiful it’s anathema that such a tragedy could befall it) last Friday beggar comprehension and explanation. There’s folks willing to try, though, and for the families of those killed, there’s years and lifetimes of possibly fruitless searching for answers to the single question of why this terrible deed needed to occur at all.
Several of our blogging friends have posted their thoughts on this event with a great deal more profundity and intelligent bereavement than I could possibly muster, and no doubt many of you reading this have formed your own thoughts and opinions on how best to deal with this crushing human tragedy. Warner Brothers, rightly so, have reacted with what I consider to be a great deal of reserved restraint – they have conservatively modified their promotional campaign and tried very hard to be mindful of the sensitivity of the week’s events with their staggered worldwide release of the movie; recent news came to me on Tuesday that the studio has decided to re-shoot and edit some of the more controversial material in their upcoming crime flick, Gangster Squad. I’d also like to echo the sentiment of Castor in that article in questioning why we should let the perpetrator influence somebody else’s work of art. I understand why, of course, but I don’t have to like it. Sensitivity is what is required here, and to my mind, I think Warners have done so with quiet professionalism. In light of their equally understated handling of the release of The Dark Knight in the wake of Heath Ledger’s untimely passing, I think they should be commended.
As a film community, and as a member of the human race, we should be justly appalled at what occurred last week in the United States. A cinema, wherever it is in the world, is a place of escape. A place to forget the humdrum, forget the pressures of life, forget the horrors of the world we live in and are subjected to by a never-ending stream of 24 hour news; it’s a place where the insanity of life is pushed to one side for a moment or three, and we can escape into a world created purely to entertain. Movies are among the great creative art-forms in human history; you can only watch a film for the first time once, after that you’re no longer a virgin (so to speak). The thrill of seeing a film for the first time is, for some, a near-holy experience, and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to assume that among those in the Colorado shootings, there were a few die-hard fans who will now, sadly, never get to watch that film for the first time.
And that, for me at least, is one of the smaller tragedies to come from the larger.
To the victims and the families of those concerned, from all of us here at Fernby Films – and as pitiful as this offering might be – I offer our deepest condolences during this horrendous time.
Editor in Chief, fernbyfilms.com
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