Just the other day I was chatting with a colleague at work about one of my all time favourite films and as I was ramping up my reasonings I described the film thusly, ‘…it’s bold, beautiful, boring and brilliant’. I’m not quite sure why my brain was spewing alliteration or how so cohesively. Nonetheless I was met with a confused look thanks to my comments and with the following quickly bringing my ramblings to an end, “boring question mark, question mark!” And with a small shrug of indifference I said, ‘Yeah’.
The film in question and I repeat, an absolute favourite of mine is Sofia Coppolas’ Lost In Translation. A simple, quiet film of strangers in a foreign land finding common ground and helping each other find their ways in life a little bit more. How could I find something I so revere boring? Well simply because I believe boring is good. With any viewing of a film you are likely to leave the theatre or peel yourself up from your couch thinking, I didn’t really like that bit or that could of been handled differently or maybe we really should have spent more time with so and so and etc. etc. etc. We can conjure an inestimable amount of versions in our mind of how we could of done it better or made it more interesting, how we could of curated the perfect cut. We each interpret what we watch differently, we garner what we need from it, we place relevance on elements that the director may never have thought of. That is the role of the viewer or the reader, being the final author. Our immediate reactions in all likelihood as said author is to get rid of the boring bits or what we at least perceived to be boring or dull or inconsequential. Lost In Translation however is all the better for it’s quote unquote boringness.
Recently I’ve been reading a fair bit of Wyndham, a brilliant sci-fi author and certainly one of the greats in the genre. Wyndham punches straight into the action of his novels introducing characters, themes, scenarios and questions at break neck speeds before suddenly dovetailing in the following chapter into mundane, boring, inconsequential details. He will bore you with a long calculated history of an event or this species or that thing. He completely drops the pace and at this point you have only made it through the intense first chapter only to find yourself adrift in a dull missive. Now Wyndham does so I believe for two reasons and it is the latter that I feel Coppola does so nicely in Translation also. To begin Wyndham uses this length of fictional history to add gravitas to his stories as well as laying very important seeds for the rest of the coming story. Secondly and more importantly he does it in order to whip away that pace, he does it to play with you expectations, he does it to lull you into a sense of boredom as you work through the voluminous text. Then when he begins his next chapter he takes the tempo straight back to where it started and all of a sudden it feels fresh, exciting and new, everything returns with a punch meanwhile that boredom burns at the back of your head but the information garnered still leaking out, still ever present. It churns in its own space of disinterest but when remarked upon again sparks with a new unknown vigour. It is this that Translation does so well. It allows itself to go on a little too long in places, to be unnecessary in others, to be boring. So that when the next sequence of events kick in there is a new ferocity to it, it hits with a punch. Coppola purposely pushes you to distraction before viscerally and brilliantly re-demanding dragging you from your lull of boredom. To create feelings and interest anew.
Imagine if 24/7 your life was a constant go, non-stop, it would be sheer madness and yes, we obviously need time to be quiet and peaceful and away from it all. Every now and then though you need to feel bored. To be sat there twiddling your thumbs. To feel agitated. To feel that drive building inside of you. That desire not to be sat there doing nothing. Sitting there staring into to space. You need to feel that burn. That clashing of ideas swirling within. That infuriation at not knowing what to do. And then like that it’s gone. Your busy again, your filled with ideas, want, the pleasure of doing, seeing, of being active. Boredom is like a sore throat you can never remember what came before it or what it will feels like after. It’s something you never want to feel but when you take that first sip of water, free of pain, there is nothing else like it.
I do hope this post has sufficiently bored you.