The Scenes They Leave Out

I don’t know who does the dishes at the Avengers HQ. I don’t know when they eat, or what. I’m also not sure how many bathrooms the Millennium Falcon has, but if I had to guess, it’s probably one small one with drain clogging issues and I bet Han Solo has to wait a long time for Chewbacca to wash his hair. I guess we’ll never know, though, because the movies don’t tell us. Those moments are too ordinary, and we like our movies packed with action. Even the documentaries and true life stories fast forward through most of the ordinary stuff of life, either ignoring it altogether or flashing back to highlights or giving us a few glimpses set to inspiring montage-music. 

Not that you could blame them. Who would want to take an hour and a half to watch an ordinary hour and a half? There’s not much excitement in that, for anyone. Just imagine a film of the lunch break James Bond takes quietly by himself while he spends the day writing detailed reports on why he had to blow up those things on his last mission. No thank you. I’d rather watch him blow up those things. It’s a lot more fun.

I wonder what it might be doing to us, though. This steady diet of films and books and TV full of action, adventure, and high drama is stimulating. But are we inadvertently teaching ourselves that normal life is not? When the ordinary stuff of daily living is at best a quick montage to set up the real action, aren’t we in danger of losing sight of the fact that the ordinary stuff of daily living is actually most of the real action of real life?

Maybe this is why there are so many phone apps made to help us splice our days into something more interesting, something more like a movie montage, complete with special effects and a soundtrack. It’s fun to imitate the movies, but then life was never meant to be lived in an hour and a half of non-stop action. It was made to be lived in days that run together into weeks and months and years that build themselves into decades full of normal work and normal tears and laughter and a million quiet choices to love and forgive. Maybe we can’t save the city from villains today, but we could help build it up a bit better than it was yesterday. Maybe we can’t win a historic defeat against the forces of evil and tyranny, but we could do justly and love mercy, and maybe even exercise some self-control. Most lives don’t include any opportunities for death defying deeds of heroism, but every day provides many chances to sacrifice ourselves for others—and a life packed with that kind of action will be richer than a summer blockbuster.

9 thoughts on “The Scenes They Leave Out”

  1. Very true! This sounds it could be an excerpt in your upcoming book 🙂

    I fully agree that movies don’t and can’t capture the ordinariness of real life. However, I’ve watched a few good gems that at least tried to do that. Some of my favorites are by Richard Linklater: “Boyhood” for examples summarizes the process of growing up in a simple, slow yet beautiful way. “After Sunset” is really just one long honest conversation without too much drama and action.
    Another good movie that is slow, simple and meaningful is “Another Year” (not by Linklater though). “The Descendants” also takes its time. Actually, the more I think of it, many independent movies try to be or feel somewhat “authentic”.

    Even though I know these movies are still meant to entertain and are scripted accordingly, they nonetheless felt relatable and helped me to appreciate the values of faithfulness, intentionality and steadiness in everyday life.


    1. You’re absolutely right Sebastian, films can still find ways to highlight the importance of ordinary things, and some films actually do that quite well. Thanks for making this point!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The older I get (and I am a certified senior citizen), the more I long for days filled with ordinary moments and routine tasks. The never-ending moments of excitement (I’ve had days like that, especially when I was a missionary) make one long for time to think, time to talk to the neighbors about their kids and cooking, and for long walks. I love those kinds of days!

    Liked by 1 person

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