The recent Bio-movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, is about redemption. A great artist turns against his friends and wastes his talent. These things could have been the theme of the movie. Instead, the producers intended to make a movie to lift the spirit by highlighting the inspirational ending to Freddie Mercury’s life. I didn’t want the movie to end, I was so taken with it.
Movies, books, plays, and all stories, are fragments of life. How you put these fragments together and which you choose to show are what art is about. And that all boils down to, what do you intend to say?
Yes, some art is still being produced that lifts the spirit. Romantic comedy is a genre built for happy endings. But my impression is that the trend is for less optimism in books and movies, and certainly painting and sculpture.
Europe was devastated materially and spiritually after WW2. In the following years, the movies that came from the continent, even the ones from great directors, tended to be fatalistic. Japan’s reaction to the nuclear holocaust was to make dystopic monster movies. The Vikings of yore inhabited a harsh, violent environment. This was reflected in their Gods and Goddesses and their believe that the entire world, even that of the immortals, would end in destruction.
In America, Hollywood once specialized in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “American in Paris.” Something has turned in our culture that has made us favor the grim consequences displayed in so many of our stories.
I often reject a movie when it wants to make a hero out of a drug dealer or other immoral character. (So I end up passing on a lot of movies on Netflix.)
Art should encompass life from the bottom to the top. But there is nothing wrong, after a long days work or some personal hardship, to flip open a book or turn on a movie, and then go to bed smiling.