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Google Street View and Movies
It’s such an eerie omniscience to be able to walk the streets of my old college town using Google Street View. I think I’ve now explored every single place I’ve ever lived in my life with the amazing sensation of walking the streets — all without actually having to leave my computer screen. I can walk up to my old elementary school, see where I lived in Boston — the porch — as if I’d traveled there. What does it mean for movies that we have this new intimacy? This new god like power of recall?
It means that what’s inside of us — the secrets of character – that can’t be gotten at by looking through a camera — drive the story even more today than ever. We can ALL see our pasts now — right down to the parking lot we played in as a six year old.
But we can’t peer into our hearts and see WHY we did things. Story has become more and more about the mystery of character. GONE GIRL is a great example. People’s hearts in movies and TV today are complex, and often dark. The more light we have in our technological world — the easier it is to create on the screen the minutest details of what we remember about the physical past — the more mysterious becomes the WHY of what we did what we did. In TRUE DETECTIVE, the true heart of the past is a nearly black world of mystery for both the protagonists — they seem victims of not seeing themselves.
Google Street View is a metaphor for all the shiny technology we can now bring to our Hollywood stories. We can see and remember the physical past with a power that Proust would have gasped at.
But the dark human heart remains as hidden — and as alluring for us — as it ever was — perhaps more.
And that’s where great story lives today.
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