Aesthetically Calming Films


          Oftentimes I am in a state of exhaustion, but not so much so that I am ready to go to sleep. Rather, at these times, I would like to lie in my bed and slowly drift off to sleep while watching a calming movie. But then, being the indecisive person that I am, the choice of movie becomes difficult. The movie must be excellent to keep my interest, but should not be so action packed that it keeps me up and disturbs my sleep. The movie must have a meditative, dream-like quality. The following are two movies that fit these criteria. I turn to these movies when I cannot fall asleep and require comfort, and have probably watched each of them at least ten times.

          2001: A Space Odyssey is a wonderful, existential masterpiece of a film directed by Stanley Kubrick. The beginning of the movie features a tribe of monkeys finding a mysterious black rectangle. Upon discovering this monolith, the monkeys begin to make and use tools. Flash forward millions of years into the future: humans have mastered intergalactic travel, and have recently stumbled upon the black monolith again. None of the political leaders know how to handle this discovery. They send a secret investigation team, consisting of two men and a computer named HAL, to the moon where the monolith was discovered. The film explores themes of extraterrestrial life, artificial intelligence, existentialism, evolution, and what it means to be human. This movie, is quite frankly, just beautiful. It may sound a bit exciting for a before-bedtime watch, but it is slow and gentle in the best way. The stunning visual effects, unparalleled in 1968, take up quite a bit of screen time. Additionally, the use of sound in the movie is flawless and very calming. The space scenes are dead silent, and the majestic classical soundtrack gives feelings of peace and triumph. The characters speak in a 1950’s radio affect, called the Mid-Atlantic accent, which I adore. HAL’s voice is also monotonous and delightful. The end of the movie, while ambiguous, gives a feeling of mystery and hope for humankind. Is there any feeling better than triumph to go to sleep to?

          Lost in Translation, directed by Sophia Coppola, is another movie that I often watch in the later hours of the night. The film features Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, two of my favorite actors, as two married Americans who meet in Japan and strike up an impromptu friendship. This visually stunning, touching film has been one of my loves since childhood. Two aimless, depressed people connect beautifully in a gorgeous setting that is unfamiliar to them both. Bob and Charlotte are both “lost” in many ways: in the foreign city, in their marriages, in each other, but they manage to have a meaningful, albeit conflicted, week together. This lost feeling combined with the warmth of their friendship lends the film a bittersweet and floating feeling, and the calm ambiance of Tokyo gives the movie a peaceful vibe. The movie also features a masterful soundtrack, containing two of my favorite songs, "More Than This" by Roxy Music and "Just Like Honey" by the Jesus and Mary Chain. Overall, this movie simply causes the viewer to experience wistful and happy emotions, and is lovely to watch when one is tired.

text: jane wrenn
visual: europa press
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