bunt sign

Thursday, February 27, 2003

In the last two days I've watched movies about time, and what we do with it. That's something I think a lot about, because I never have enough time, and yet I often find myself wasting time. Time can drag on forever, or it can rush by in a heartbeat.

In Tuck Everlasting, people have too much time. It's an exploration of the implications of immortality. If you're going to live forever, how do you spend each day? If there's no reason to wonder how many tomorrows you have, does it lessen the value of today? Is it only the realization that we're limited to whatever time we have that gives urgency to our lives?

The biggest question is what to do if you have the choice. I don't believe everyone wants to live forever, but I don't think most people really want to die. We know we will, but we try not to let it creep into the way we plan our time. We'd choose immortality if we could.

Or maybe we wouldn't. Maybe if we thought about what it would mean to live forever, we'd be better able to accept the inevitability of dying. In the movie, the choice once taken can't be given back. There's an air of doom hanging over both the mortals and the immortals in the story, just because the choice is available and yet irreversible.

The characters, even the mortal ones, have time to think about their lives and their choices. They're wealthy people, and the setting is America in the early twentieth century, before the explosion of population and technology made the world so much smaller and more hectic. If life seems long enough and slow enough, maybe immortality doesn't have the attraction it does today, when so many of us are trying to do too many things in too short a time.

In Run Lola Run, there's a choice also. In fact, there are hundreds of choices made over the twenty-minute period that the story reveals. Each one of these choices fans out like cracks in a pane of glass, taking passing strangers and unwary acquaintances along with it. Sometimes it's coincidence that drives the action, and at other times there's a sense that the forces that bring people together are stronger than anything we can do to avoid them.

The movie is a headlong rush of events that happen so quickly, one after another, that it takes eighty minutes to tell what goes on in twenty. The pace is so deliberately fast and the interconnected events so rapidly played out that it can make us wonder. How many times in a day do we turn left when we could turn right? And how many things are changed by each of those decisions? How is the world shaped in tiny twists of individual lives?

There are moments in Run Lola Run when time seems to stand still. Things are happening so fast that the slightest pause can become an eternity. Lola has twenty minutes to solve a life-or-death problem. Downtime seems an impossible concept, but she's living her complex life even while she's racing to complete one simple task.

We really exist on both levels. Life is a marathon, but to live it we have to sprint once in a while. We can live as if we'll never die, or we can live each day as if death were catching us up from behind. Sometimes we have a choice of how to make our time count, and sometimes the course of the day is chosen for us.

We know how our race will end, in the long run, even if we don't often acknowledge it. It's how we run each leg, whenever we do have options, that determines how we affect the time and the lives of those around us. Since we can't account for coincidence anyway, the best we can hope for is that good intentions will over time tip the balance in our favor.


Clouds over the side fence and beyond the eucalyptus grove.

I liked Tuck Everlasting. It's a sweetly romantic story in which good intentions play a big role in easing the pain of loss. Doing the right thing can be difficult, but there's a nobility in sacrificing oneself for love. I thought Run Lola Run was a better movie, a great movie that I've been wanting to see for a long time. It's anti-romantic, in that it points out the absurdity of life in a world where the pace often outruns our best efforts. And in its own way it deals with immortality, because it reveals how some of the split-second life-or-death choices can go either way.

previousbunt signemailnext


Nobody likes rain when a baseball game is supposed to be played, but I almost didn't mind the fact that the Giants' first spring training game, scheduled for today in Scottsdale, was rained out. That meant I got to listen to my favorite announcers vamping for an hour while the teams decided whether to play or not.

Jon Miller, Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow talked about the upcoming season, and last year's great run, and the tarp being taken off the field and then put back on. The sound of baseball on the radio, even during a rain delay, is the sound of spring, and grassy fields and that rumble that goes through a crowd for three hours on a sunny afternoon.

There needs to be more sun, though, for an actual game to be played. I'm not sure how often they can get a few thousand people to sit and watch the tarp being rolled out, when they've actually come to see Barry Bonds stroke the ball into the stratosphere. Maybe tomorrow there will be an actual game, but today, for the first time since last fall, just the sound of people talking about baseball was enough.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Dance to the Music
"I was a grasshopper today when I should have been an ant. Actually, I was an ant trying to be a grasshopper, which is much worse."

Subscribe to the notify list to be advised when this site is updated.

I'm gonna spare the defeated, boys,
I'm going to speak to the crowd
I am goin' to teach peace to the conquered
I'm gonna tame the proud