I’m sure we’d all like to edit our lives with a little movie magic from time to time. If life were a movie all of our significant experiences would follow a neat Three-Act narrative, so we’d always know what was coming next. We’d be witty and articulate with blinding teeth and no wobbly bits. But perhaps most appealingly, we’d have the option to overcome our hardships and change our entire lives in an uplifting, thirty second montage sequence.
In film and TV, montage is used to indicate the passing of time and emotional/physical/spiritual change (without dragging the narrative and boring the audience, of course). We’re willing to suspend our disbelief at the cinema but in real life, we know, it’s those sticky, in-between bits that make all the difference. Hard times help us develop efficiency and wisdom, and show us how to grow a backbone. We know this, and yet the montage remains an attractive concept. It strings together our successes without asking us to sit through the cringe-worthy failures. When we think about our goals we see ourselves victorious and jubilant, not struggling to negotiate a learning curve. Understandably this outlook is much more motivating, so even if the movie montage isn’t particularly realistic it can be a pretty handy inspiration.
Granted montage isn’t always so positive; plenty of films use the technique to convey periods of heartbreak and loss, but some of the warmest and most motivational movies have montage sequences that make you want to simultaneously dance in your seat and unplug the TV so you can go stop procrastinating and go figure your life out. In The Breakfast Club, the kids storm through social barricades and boogie on down to We Are Not Alone. In Bridget Jones Diary, Renee Zellweger chooses vodka, Chaka Khan and the gym over her slimeball boss and horrible workplace. In Rocky, Sylvester Stalone sweats a lot, works it out and runs around to the tune of Gonna Fly Now (and not Eye of the Tiger like I always believed!)
‘Visualisation’ is a reigning tool in self-help circles, and while the concept can seem a little mawkish it does have certain merit – you can hardly expect to get what you want if you can’t even picture what you want!
So get imaginative. Embrace a bit of healthy daydreaming and get to work cutting together your montage. Choose a cheesy soundtrack if it helps! If you’re after a healthier lifestyle, imagine yourself triumphantly filling your fridge with clean, colourful goodness, bounding around with heaps of energy, completing just one pull up and crossing the finish line of your first marathon – all set to the tune of Eye of the Tiger, of course. Want to finally get that novel written? Picture yourself at your laptop smiling in approval at your own work, screaming in elation when you get that fateful letter from a publisher, visiting Waterstones to see your book on display, meeting someone who lives and breathes for your writing.
In short, think about what you’re working for and what rewards you’re expecting to reap. Once you know what you want, you can keep that personal reel of uplifting montage rolling in your head and use it to get you through all those sticky, in-between bits that didn’t quite make the cut.
Featured image by Morgan Sessions.