For the Love of Film

Mikayla Mislak ’17

From the October 2015 Issue

My journey into the celluloid world began with a puddle of blood on Valentine’s Day.

A fourth concussion got me stitches, a scar, an ambulance ride, and two years of bondage. I was a prisoner in my own home; a bird with a broken head, unable to leave its cage. My education and my social life shrunk to fit on my new little planet.

With post-concussion syndrome silencing my words, my movements, and my mind, I reached for flecks of film. In movies, I found a portal out of my pain and desolation. Cinema was the perfect lover, giving me all the pleasure and beauty that I desired, replacing my grey vision with its Technicolor graces. Like a starving man, I devoured this visual artistry. Watching movies became my new purpose, teacher, and devotion.

Film noir, 80’s John Hughes, bloody Quentin Tarantino films and suspenseful Hitchcock pictures. Small scale indies, silent Chaplins, short films and anime. Humphrey Bogart, Rock Hudson and Doris Day. French films, Hollywood favorites and Bollywood musicals. I swallowed everything with religious fervor.

As a writer unable to remember how to write a single letter, I listened for the scriptwriter’s signature, the director’s prose, the editor’s mark and the actor’s tone and I started to grasp the full complexity that laced a film into a cohesive piece. My desires to one day contribute morphed into the fuel I needed to heal. Every precious piece of cinema made me grow stronger, both in my convictions and my resolve. With every tear-jerking drama and cute comedy, I could bear the migraines and the loneliness.

A mantra chanted daily in my head:
“When I get better, I’m going to make a movie like that.”
“When I get better, I’m going to write an amazing script.”
“I’m going to get better, so that I can change the way that character is depicted on film.”
“I will get better, and when I am, I’m going to write movies.”

I do not know if I will indeed write the scripts I intended in those sickly days, but since that dark time in my life, I treasured movies. I would have never found the courage to get through my illness if great cinematic masterpieces had not been there to dress my wounds.

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