Friday, October 19, 2012

There Is No Montage

A while ago, I was having a conversation with Nate, one of my best friends and favorite people. We were talking about movies and stories, and he said something brilliant. It went something like this:
Me: The best stories are the ones with conflict, right?
Nate: Yeah, but a lot of times in the movies, they don't really show the hard work that people have to go through in real life. 
Me: Huh? 
Nate: Like, the character in the movie has this difficult situation they need to overcome or a tough decision to make, but instead of showing the really hard part of them actually having to experience the work and patience they undergo, the movie people just montage it. 
Me: ...they montage it....
Nate: Yeah. They montage it. They can turn days or months or years of hardship into a montage. Edit some scenes together, put a nice soundtrack in the background, and your audience doesn't have to experience the actual difficulty that the character apparently endures. 
Me: You have a point. I can think of plenty of romantic comedies or sports movies where they just montage through the really hard stuff, the stuff that requires discipline and patience. 
Nate: If they didn't, it'd probably be a pretty boring movie. No one wants to actually have to experience what character is experiencing in real time. So, they montage it.
Here's the difficult truth about real life:

There is no montage.

Indiana Jones can traverse the world in ten seconds with a little animated red line. Rocky trains for the big fight with a little inspirational music and some quick editing. Forrest Gump runs across the entire nation and grows an enormous beard in less than six minutes.

But you and I can't do that. I can't grow a beard in six minutes, I can't fly to Egypt in a matter of seconds, and I can't beat up Apollo Creed by listening to "Eye of the Tiger."

In order to have a really great story, you have to take the time to put in the hard work and overcome the conflict before you. It takes commitment and patience and grace. Those can't be replaced by quick-fix solutions.

The best stories are beyond a montage. They're difficult, but they're the stories worth living.

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