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Hollywood’s cynicism is breeding disconcerting cultural standards
Producer Lindsay Doran would agree. Ms. Doran, whose producing credits include “Nanny McPhee” and “Sense and Sensibility,” is on a mission to change Hollywood’s mood. Against the bleak and violent movies that dominate the big screen and take home the big awards, she is pushing for more inspiring films to be produced.
That a “movie is only art if it ends badly, and that you’ll only win an Academy Award if you write or direct a movie about misery or play someone miserable” is pure myth, she told The New York Times earlier this year. Rather, the stories that audiences truly love are about the things that give life meaning — especially relationships.
Along those lines is a film called “The Impossible,” which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September and is scheduled to open in U.S. theaters in December. The movie stars Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts as the parents of three boys vacationing in Thailand in 2004 when the massive tsunami strikes, killing 200,000 people. In the wake of the disaster, the family members are torn apart, and the film follows their journey to find each other. “The Impossible’s” tag line is “Nothing is more powerful than the human spirit.”
The trailer was immensely moving, but to a critic at Slate that’s a bad thing — “deeply troubling,” in his words. You see, rather than focusing on the hundreds of thousands who died in the tsunami, the movie is the “uplifting story of five well-off white people.” Such facile cynicism echoes Stanley Kubrick’s comment about another elevating film: “The Holocaust is about 6 million people who get killed. ‘Schindler’s List’ is about 600 who don’t.”
Despite the cynicism of the cultural establishment, we need more inspiring stories on the big and small screen. If Ms. Doran gets her way, maybe one day we will.
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