No art is made in a vacuum. Humans–and thus all of their creative endeavors–are unbreakably connected to the myths, movements, and moments of our cultures. Such connection is not unilateral, however; it is intrinsically bidirectional. Culture works on art by providing raw materials (present social moments, meaningful settings, relevant characters, etc.) and informing assumptions (on human nature, on the ‘good’ life, on history, etc.). Art works on culture by creating and adapting those raw materials into something new, and challenging or affirming given assumptions about the world and how it works. This two-way street has been happening for as long as humans have been creating–which, incidentally, is as long as humans have existed. From the myth-making of the ancient Greeks to the box-office breaking Marvel Cinematic Universe, culture and art have always danced together.
This dance serves as a mirror, reflecting back to us the things that make up our individual and collective human experience. We learn about ourselves by examining this intermingling, and we are provided the opportunity to see (as audience members) and express (as artists) what it really means to live and move in our world. As the dominant artistic medium in the 21st century, film serves as an excellent case study for this marriage of art and culture: it takes our world and speaks it to us through an imaginative scope.
This is why The Leavitt Lens will be shifting in its focus during the coming weeks . Rather than writing reviews, which by nature prevent comprehensive examination, the blog will focus on analysis essays of a sort, examining a variety of films from philosophical, theological, and anthropological levels. The hope is, as Lewis’s Book of Incantations would instruct, to make the unseen seen, to bring to life that which is already present yet somehow hidden. In doing so, we will chart a path of discovery together not only towards a better understanding of the movies we love, but towards a deeper awareness of our own hearts and minds. So, if you would, join me for this ride – let’s explore our mirrors together.