This all started with a pebble in the garden, the completion of a 21 movie story arc, and the memory of a 90’s sci-fi show.
On the 24th March 2020, Disney launched Disney+ here in the UK. It presented an opportunity for me. You see, I'd not seem all of the Marvel movies, or MCU as they are often referred. Sure, I had seen most, but there was a slab that I just hadn't watched.
Anyway, given this opportunity to watch them, I set about working out the best order. Obviously others had done the same, and it turns out that current recommended method, is to watch them in timeline order . That is to say, not in the order that they're made and released, but rather the chronological order in which they are set in. So for example, the second movie would be Captain Marvel; released in 2019 but set in 1995.
Last night that particular viewing project came to its conclusion, with Avengers: Endgame.
It was an interesting experience watching all the movies in close succession. I mean I didn't binge watch, but you get the idea. Whilst each movie had its own merits, the overarching story arc was impressive and satisfying.
I have fond memories of watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, followed of course by Star Trek: Voyager. Around the same time, I was also watching Babylon 5. Once again, they all had their own merits, but their approach to story telling was quite different.
Star Trek primary focus seemed to be to make sure that each episode could be viewed & enjoyed in isolation. Sure, there were threads of ongoing story lines, but they were few and far between. You could be certain, that in the last few minutes of the episode, everything would be nicely resolved. Not in every single case, but in most. It has to be said, that this approach worked to its advantage, as new viewers could just arrive half way into a random series and still enjoy it immensely.
Babylon 5 was an entirely different matter. Best described as a space opera, it was vast in scale and ambition. Entirely written by one man, J. Michael Straczynski, from 1993 to 1998 spanning over 5 seasons and 111 episodes, followed up by 4 movies to conclude the story arcs. It is said that whilst writing season 1 he knew what season 5 would be. With complex storylines that span multiple episodes and multiple seasons, it really does show. You can't just dip in and out of it, you'd loose 70% of what is going on. At the end of each episode, the story is very rarely wrapped up. Still considered by many as the greatest sci-fi show of all time.
All this obviously got me thinking; you won't be at all surprised.
Star Trek is a collection of chicken nuggets. Babylon 5 is a 9 course meal. MCU is a Sunday Roast dinner. They are all in the speculative fiction genre, but have different things to offer. Which is fine by the way, and does not mean one is better than the other.
The other day, I was in the garden shuffling around. I spotted a particularly interesting stone. I picked it up, and just spend a few moments looking at it in my hand; pushing it around in my hand. Then placed it back. It was a tiny moment, focused and rich.
"It's all about perspective" - you often hear that phrase. It's banded about like a packet of biscuits at a knitting club.
I think that perspective isn't just about the angle of view, field of vision, or scope. In that throwaway phrase, it is trying to get you to stop looking at whatever it is you are looking at, take a step back, and take in another view. To look at what is going on around you.
You can imagine that quite easily; me placing the stone back on the ground, standing up, and looking at the whole garden.
The reverse is also true, take a moment to take a closer look at the detail, rather than just viewing the big picture.
It's all about where to look, and when.
Which, I think is entirely missing the point. It actually isn't about looking at all. It is surely something much more than that.
When I was chatting about MCU, Star Trek, Babylon 5, I was describing what my expectations were of each of them. How they measured up against that expectation. However, that exception was already set. The very fact that there existed a timeline viewing order for MCU, suggested a certain viewing expectation. Sure, I could change my perception from looking at each movie in its own, or as a group, but it was always within that pre-set expectation.
I believe that the real meaning of the phrase put things into perspective, is not just that we should change our viewing angle, our visual interpretation of the what is before us. I believe that it is also suggesting that we should reset our mental view of it too.
That change of perspective, also has a change of mindset about it too. Further, I believe that it isn't just saying that we should change it but rather that we should delete the previous one, then reset into something fresh and new.
Sometimes you just need to go from looking at a single pebble, to a garden view; from one to another.
Sometimes you need to look at the whole garden, and realise that it also contains pebbles.
Taken in Cambridge, I can’t remember where this goes. I think I’d like to find out…
Talking Heads - Road to Nowhere. A fantastic track from 1985, with an almost impenetratble video. Watching the video, your brain doesn’t quite understand it, but strangely it does kind of make sense. The running man in the bottom right of the screen, is surely a reference to the first film ever made, of The Running Horse in 1878 by Eadweard Muybridge. I think that says enough …
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