Books and Movies Reviews

Lynch/Egoyan: Traumatic Event

Living in the Past or Embracing the Future
Most people have intense feelings after a traumatic event.Observe the reactions of people following September 11th, the Oklahoma City bombing, wars, and natural disasters such as tornados, floods, and fires.Even, family damages such as death or a loss of a relationship can be mentally disturbing.Such instances dent the natural spin of life for its victims.Directors David Lynch and Atom Egoyan juggle this topic of the traumatic event and its affects in many of their films.Throughout such films as Lynch’s The Straight Story and Egoyan’s The Sweet Here After, memories of traumatic events linger in the air and drive the present narrative.Their presence and constant references also serve as directorial commentary on traumatic events and ways of coping with their aftermath.
Both directors embed the memories of disaster in interesting ways.The traumatic event is not simply initially presented or shown in one sweeping scene. Effectively, pieces of this puzzling event are given throughout the film.Thus, the directors leave the audience in suspense, lingering, wondering exactly what happened– what is driving these characters to behave the way they behave.
While similar, the presentations of the traumatic events still differ greatly.The Straight Story never shows any of the incidents that are driving the plot or characters.The audience is only shown images that allude to the event or given dialogue that describes the event. Therefore, the action of the narrative is always in the present rather than the past.For example, the World War II tragedies are given in the present through dialogue between the veterans sitting at a bar.All images and other sensations are the responsibility of the imagination of the viewer. Another example appears when Alvin rolls down a steep hill toward a burning house.The frame cuts sporadically from the approaching burning house to the int…