Thursday, November 20, 2008

Garden State

Last night, I finally got around to watching Garden State by Zach Braff. I have been meaning to watch this movie for a while now, and had the soundtrack, which is amazing by the way. Since I am also reading Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises these days, I couldn't help myself from drawing parallels between the two.

Hemingway's semi-autobiographical The Sun Also Rises is about the expatriate lifestyle many American writers opted for in the Post-World War I era. But one doesn't have to leave his or her country to feel alone and lost, you can feel that even at your home. It is this feeling of dismal depression, Zach Braff's character finds himself in. Braff's character is a struggling desolate actor living in Los Angeles, who doesn't have his life in order. He returns home to New Jersey, the Garden State, for his mom's funeral, and during his short stay reconnects with old high school buddies.

Zach Braff, who also wrote and directed this movie, during the post-production said, we go through physical puberty in our teens, but our 20s are about mental emancipation. I think once school is done and you have achieved whatever academic goals you had set out for yourself, and you start to take your first steps into the real world, you get this sense of awakening. In some cases, it is the realization, is that what you were working so hard for, is that why you pulled all those all-nighters in university?

The other feeling that I have to deal with is this sense of lack of achievement. For instance, in my case there are still a lot of books that I have to read. So many authors I haven't read. Take Ernest Hemingway for example, he is a renowned American author, and this is only the second book of his I am reading. Or the fact that I still have to crack open my copy of War and Peace that I purchased a couple of months ago. I still have to read Homer's Iliad and Odyssey.

I had the same sense of under-achievement when I was reading Raphael's biography the other day. Raphael painted The School of Athens in his late 20s. I have had the pleasure of seeing some of his masterpieces in their original form, in my early teenage years, and now reading about his achievements reminded me of the ambitions I had then.

In the movie, Zach Braff's character says something along the lines that you can't wait for your life to happen you have to start living it now.

I am not measuring my achievements in the amount of books I have read, or the artwork I have seen. I have graduated with distinction from one of the best universities in the world, and in some people's eyes that is a big achievement. But, I personally don't see that as an achievement, I could be proud of. And, this is not a case of false humility. In terms of knowledge and wisdom, there is still so much I don't know. I still have to read and benefit from the literary masterpieces of great minds such as Tolstoy, George Elliot, George Orwell, Thomas More, I can keep going...

But, I guess this is what the 20s are all about. Finding our place in the world, and making sure we don't get lost in obscurity of the whole 9 to 5 quotidian.


changetheworld360 said...

Garden State is one of my favorite movies simply because it speaks to our generation in such a true way. Like Zach Braff said, it is about awakening: finding yourself and really living your life, not just waiting for something to happen. These are all things young people can identify with and personal conflicts that we struggle to grasp. I think almost all of us can relate to the character of Andrew Largeman somehow.
We're actually reading The Iliad and The Odyssey in English next semester. Should be interesting.

changetheworld360 said...

Btw, great post! I really like how you're able to make so many connections with just one topic. Such is the beauty of our world.

Zany said...

Thanks, changetheworld360.

I was in the midst of reading 'The Odyssey', but I got distracted by Hemingway. Even his posthumous effect on the fairer-sex is undeniable =).

I look forward to reading your views regarding Homer's masterpieces.

Kia said...

I think most of us feel a sense of underachievement in our 20s and probably into our early 30s. When we're young, we have all these ambitions and ideas about what we want to have achieved by 25 or 30 and when we get there, we realise that life just didn't pan out that way. I try to set small goals at the beginning of each year so I won't feel crappy at the end.

As for the books, 'read the classics' is on my list. I also have '1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die' and I've been planning to start The Count of Monte Cristo BUT I've also learnt to read books that I enjoy rather than books I think should read.

Kia said...

PS. Whst was Natalie Portman like in it? I love her.

Zany said...

I love Natalie Portman too. She is intelligent and not pretentious at all. Her acting was amazing in the movie.

The book '1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die' made a lot of people really angry, when it came out. Here is an interesting review that I read in the New York Times. Some critics thought the author was just another British man telling the rest of the world what they should read and not read =).

I like the idea of setting small goals, that way hopefully I wouldn't be setting myself up for a major disappointment.

In terms of books, I am working my way through this book-list, which seems more do-able than reading 1001 books :).

Maria Sondule said...

Well, there's one way to be proud of yourself- do things that make you proud. I guess that isn't as easy as it sounds, though. (i know it's hard for me) The movie sounds very interesting, but I would probably still like your post about it better than the movie itself.

Zany said...

Awww, thanks. Trust me, the movie is way better than my post, Maria. And, thanks for the advice =).

That Mash Guy said...

i think the movie is a little over rated.

but i remember fancying the pants off Natalie Portman's character...

Zany said...

I am not surprised :), she is very loveable in the movie.