The movie “Hook” is not one of Spielberg's best-regarded movies - I've always liked it quite a bit, though. One element of it that speaks to me is the main character who's forgotten his true identity and true nature. I love the story about the writing of the screenplay - the writer was brainstorming “what if” scenarios for stories, and (if memory serves) his son or daughter came up with the one line that inspired the script - “What if Peter Pan grew up?”
The story then takes this classic character and puts him in the body of a middle-aged, work-obsessed guy who's lost all connection with childhood joys, and is losing connection to his own kids. It's quite effective, with a strong cast, expert direction by Spielberg and of course, John Williams' music.
Anyway, it's an expanded version of the trope of memory loss, where a character lives their whole life (or a good chunk of it) not realizing their actual identity is something very different, probably greater than they could imagine.
This trope works well with Fantasy or Urban Fantasy of course (the series Once Upon a Time is based on this idea) but is also found in science fiction (The Matrix, and one great, noir-ish episode of Deep Space Nine come to mind), and thrillers like Memento, and thriller/horrors like Angel Heart. Stephen King's IT has this element of forgetting, along with the theme of the connection to our childhood selves and how we can lose track of it.
The philosopher Alan Watts talked about this possibility - not to convince anyone, but just to imagine that we are eternal beings who choose this Earth life, with its limitations and challenges, to deepen ourselves and to experience something other than a blissful, happy wholeness.
Anyway, in fiction it's a fascinating trope that resonates with me - I think the obvious thematic power of this is that we can often get caught up in our work or out situation, and get distracted and ‘off course’ in some way, becoming unhappy. We can forget, or not realize that we are capable of more than we might think, and that our routine or something has caused us to put artificial limits on ourselves (and not in a good way).
The “lost memory” thing is a version of this that shows up in plenty of stories, of course, and this theme is there even in the Amnesia Comedy “The Hangover”.
I wonder - after we pass away, do we “wake up” in a new state, still ourselves but also MORE? And might we remember who we truly are? It's a notion that captures my imagination. I have no way of knowing - but it's a compelling thought.
Meanwhile, we gotta live this life and do the best we can, I reckon.
See you next time!
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Banes at 12:00AM, Aug. 10, 2023
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