The Pictures, Text and Movement of Solitude in the City: A perspective drawn from Cinema

(As i write this brief, esoteric piece, i would like to thank Wong Kar-Wai, Hayao Miyazaki, @pascalcampioart, @yaoyaomva, Mani Ratnam, A R Rahman, Spike Jonze, and every other god breathing life as a Human).

This feeble atmospheric smoke called “Solitude” — or as the general infectious sociophiles call it: “loneliness”, “you’re the party pooper!” or the best, “boring!” — has been, like the atmosphere been hanging and moving around every human’s neck and eyes. Yet, the world seems to view this block of air as a waste of energy, time and money. What we are taught/ given to think and understand are the emotions that are required to perpetuate human life, and not to celebrate the self. To understand the vehement opinions and red/ orange tensions of the community and body of people, it is required that the individual fall in love with herself. And this love, can be understood and grasped through some moving images and text from the art world. While this prelude may project itself to be the manifestation of narcissus, i assure you, the writer here does not bring herself to hate the crowd, she merely endeavours to portray snippets where the crowd, was not missed.

Exhibit 1: Chungking Express, 1994 (Wong Kar-Wai), around the 23rd minute mark.

He sits in his small, confined apartment, eating pineapples out of a can. Opening the window and placing his feet over the sill. Having a smile. There is no push to conform to a crowd. There is no finger from the sociable, charismatic humans pointing at you. And even if there is, there is nothing to stop you, your can of pineapple or the view from the small window in your smaller apartment.

(P.S. The next line he utters is the following: “I’d love to go out on the town now.” Yeah, yeah, the argument here, is that this particular piece of dialogue isn’t exactly portraying the “lonely” part! But watch the film, and you will know that the scenes preceding and succeeding these frames are connected to loneliness/ aloofness/ “lack of partay!-ing skills”/ or whatever you want to call it.)

Exhibit 2: Chungking Express, 1994 (Wong Kar-Wai), around the 1 hour, 42nd minute mark.

The lead character has gone through a fissure of the heart (yes, a break-up. just tried to fancy stuff a little, forgive me). He talks about how his apartment is now not able to cope up with it, and how it has cried and filled the rooms with water.

The work of a lonely mind finds these little whimpers, small messages and souls of objects. And in some cases, souls of humans (and other living things also). An acceptance of the fact of loneliness means opening the door to a multitude of interpretations of the world and the surroundings around you.

Exhibit 3: In the Mood for Love, 2000 (Wong Kar-Wai), not-sure-when-this-scene-comes-but-i-sure-remember-the-scene mark.

This frame. This transition. This separation between the lead characters. Sitting in their own apartments. One singing to herself. The other cleaning his cooker. Leaning on the wall. Going about their own work. No need for self-validation on social media. No need for talking with friends or the ones they love. Nobody to love. Nothing to wish for. Just being there. All by themselves.

Is this not more to love than the hubris (and debris) of the crowd?

Exhibit 4: Her, 2013 (Spike Jonze), somewhere-around-the-ending mark.

After the final goodbye, gazing out onto: the insects and humans and gods going about their own lives; the lights carrying electricity to every nook and corner of concrete buildings; the sky looming over the night; the darkness of the apartment seeping through the blanket of solitude. And you — imagine — you, just standing there, alone taking in this beauty.

These examples are a just a whiff of the various art pieces out there trying to emulate the beauty of solitude. Again, this piece does not attempt to shoot the crowd-lover. It merely draws a picture of solitude, if understood and breathed in, can actually provide the spark that this life so greatly lacks. Also, it does not paint the solitude-lover as the tinder of colourful hope in this black & white world, it merely tries to draw a different perspective, a perspective that can feed the yearning of the self. This piece does not aim to glorify a style, but prod open the mind to light (or darkness, whichever the reader prefers).

Please do try:

And the following movies (not on YouTube currently):

  • My Neighbour Totoro, 1988 (Hayao Miyazaki)
  • Spirited Away, 2001 (Hayao Miyazaki)
  • Princess Mononoke, 1997 (Hayao Miyazaki)
  • Her, 2013 (Spike Jonze)
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