Sunday, April 18, 2010

The State of Our Imagination

What do avatars, a sinking ship, a superhero, hobbits, pirates, a boy wizard, and intergalactic battles have in common? They are the center of attention of the worldwide top ten grossing films, according to Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Here are IMDb’s rankings as April 1, 2010:
1. Avatar (2009) $2,721,365,137
2. Titanic (1997) $1,835,300,000
3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) $1,129,219,252
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) $1,060,332,628
5. The Dark Knight (2008) $1,001,921,825
6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) $968,657,891
7. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007) $958,404,152
8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) $937,000,866
9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) $933,956,980
10. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) $922,379,000

With the possible exception of Titanic, no story about real people facing real problems makes the list. Our craving for fantasy suggests a bleak future for the human connection story, which is the only film I find worth watching. I do believe, however, that a time will come when Hollywood will “discover” human connection stories again—especially when the technology of special effects loses its luster and takes its rightful place as a practical tool, not a reality escape. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep reading and writing.