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Life imitating art, or something …

The process of growing old is a strange phenomenon. As an oldie I sometimes frighten myself by how little I can remember about the past, not just in history generally but about what happened when in my own life. Having said that, ironically perhaps, it is also the case that simultaneously – partly because I always try to live in the present – I don’t really care.

I hold to the view that a natural aspect of human existence is that we are all ‘of our own time’. In other words – for example, as regards technological developments, and I’m making a sweeping generalisation here – between the ages of about 20 and 40 we are ‘current’, which involves both being fascinated by new things and trying to keep up with the latest of everything.

fashionThereafter, however, we begin to reach the downward slope. The need to ‘keep up’ gradually decreases in intensity. Somehow the world as it became between 20 and 40 feels the most comfortable to us (tastes in music, art, popular culture etc.) and the new stuff that subsequently comes along begins to interest us less and less, to the point where eventually find ourselves making a deliberate decision that – however exciting any new developments are – we just don’t care anymore. We realise that we are content with things as they were. We no longer want to have the latest of everything.

Don’t get me wrong, in my view this all part of the natural process of ageing. It’s nothing to be worried about in itself. It would be odd, and I’m not denying that it sometimes it happens, if a middle-aged or elderly person became teenage-besotted with punk, rap or hip-hop music (or whatever musical style and cultures have come along more recently). After all, the whole point of ‘pop’ music and fashion cultures is that these are – or should be – the background accompaniment to the lives of teenagers and young people. New. Different from what went before. So different that in concept and approach that they repel the previous generation. The theme being that, at least to some extent, you should be able to identify someone’s age by their preferred choices of design and items of artistic interest.

That preamble leads me to day’s topic.

I surprised myself this morning by being able to remember going to the cinema to see the movies Deep Impact and Armageddon.

It’s a fact of life that I cannot recall the last time I went to the cinema or indeed what I saw when I did – this because, an off-shoot perhaps of the perennial Rust topic of whether watching public events at home on TV is a better experience than attending them for real, I decided that I’d rather wait and buy the DVD and/or watch a film when it finally gets released for TV broadcast at home than go out to a cinema where a bag of popcorn plus a paper cup-ful of Tango orange drink together can set you back nearly £10 and then you have to sit in a movie theatre surrounded by the Great Unwashed shifting in their seats, talking, making mobile phone calls and generally distracting you. Plus the Dolby quadraphonic sound system is set to painful ear-splitting volume, of course.

I digress.

DeepI had to look this up on the internet, but the Paramount/Dreamworks movie Deep Impact (starring Robert Duvall and Morgan Freeman, directed by Mimi Leder, written by Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin) was released in the USA on 8th May 1998.

Its story was the world’s attempt to prepare for and destroy a 7-mile wide comet set to collide with the Earth and cause a mass extinction. Deep Impact, which cost approximately US$80m, ended grossing over US$350m worldwide.

It is a feature of Hollywood life that movies tend to operate in genres. When someone scores a big success in a certain type of film, the following year everybody is making similar.

willisSomething in astrology and/or science must have happened in the early-to-mid 1990s because only two and a half months after Deep Impact first hit movie theatre screens came the release of Touchstone Picture’s Armaggedon (starring an ensemble cast of Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler, Owen Wilson and others, directed by Michael Bay, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer) with a similar basic storyline – the world’s attempt to save itself from mass extinction by asteroid …

As it happens – history tells us this – Deep Impact was regarded as being the more scientifically plausible of the two, but Armaggedon bested it at the box office, notching a worldwide gross of US$553.7m.

Summoning every sinew, my memories of these movies are that they were both entertaining but that Armaggedon (with Bruce Willis as the specialist driller who volunteers to lead a suicide mission to land on and blow up the asteroid, thus saving the Earth) descended into almost B-movie style cartoon super-hero farce territory in its second half.

I was prompted to mention all this today by a report that appears on the website today of – THE INDEPENDENT


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About J S Bird

A retired academic, Jeremy will contribute article on subjects that attract his interest. More Posts