CATHARSIS AND THOSE MOVIE MOMENTS

Photo by  Tony Rojas  on  Unsplash

Photo by Tony Rojas on Unsplash

Catharsis: the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.

Do you ever notice how good you feel after sitting through a rich and intense film that stirs up your deepest emotions and vulnerabilities? Especially when the film provides a comforting resolution, reminding and empowering us that we are not alone in our general fears and anxieties.

I wanted to share with you 5 movie moments that stir up these feelings in me. Have you ever thought what yours are?

Charlottes Web: The Death of Charlotte

I would challenge anyone to watch this moment in the film and not feel even the smallest wrench in their heart. Of course, being highly sensitive, for me it opens the floodgates (!). Charlotte is a spider who befriends a pig, Wilbur, on a farm, and wants to literally save his bacon through a form of spiderweb propaganda to prevent him from being turned into sausages. She writes celebratory words about him in her web, fooling the farmer into thinking Wilbur is too special to be butchered. And it works. But just as the friends celebrate their achievement, Charlotte begins to weaken and, soon after, passes away; but not before thanking Wilbur for giving her life a deeper purpose than the average spider. I know this is animals we are talking about, but the moment of her death and Wilbur's agonising mourning, really captures that moment that we must all experience at some point; of losing a person in our lives who has been our inspiration and our protector. The person who loves you unconditionally, and has maybe sacrificed something of themselves for your happiness.

Labyrinth: Sarah Grows Up

A classic fantasy adventure film, that is generally very light-hearted, but there is one moment at the end that gives the narrative a deeper, universal, coming-of-age message.

Sarah is a moody teenager, who lives in her own fantasy world of witches and warlocks, spending time in her room surrounded by childhood toys. She is resentful that, while choosing not to go out and socialise with other teenagers, she is asked to babysit her little stepbrother. That is until the baby is kidnapped by the Goblin King (played by none other than David Bowie) and Sarah is compelled to tackle a capricious labyrinth to rescue him.

Throughout the film she learns to take responsibility for her actions and as a result grows from child to adult. It is in the final scene when she is putting her toys away that she addresses the quirky friends she has made on her fantasy adventure; telling them that she needs to move on, but quite touchingly reflects, with a tear in her eye, that sometimes in her life she still needs them. She is not sure why, she just knows that she does.

This touches a nerve in me because my interpretation is that, as we become adults and learn to take responsibility for our lives, which can make us harder and tougher, it is still important to pay respect and attention to the inner child, who still holds that place of innocence, creativity, and vulnerability and give our lives space to endulge in that.

Star Wars Trilogy: Forgiving Darth Vadar

It goes without saying that the original Star Wars trilogy was revolutionary in so many ways, and my experience of watching it has matured as I have gotten older in an interesting way. As a child, I was captivated by the special effects and alien creatures. As a teenager, I became obsessed with the production design and back-stories of the multitude of characters the protagonists encounter. Now, as an adult I have become much more aware of the deeper political/spiritual messaging of the plot and personal journeys of the protagonists. For me, one of the final scenes evokes one of the most powerful moments of the trilogy, when Luke privately cremates the body of his father. There are no words, but Luke's face, the emotional music and editing, evokes one of the most cathartic moments in cinema, in my opinion.

While Darth Vadar was portrayed as 'evil' throughout the trilogy, this is challenged in this scene when we are asked to feel compassion for the character who was actually a victim overall of fear and manipulation, that denied him the experience of knowing and loving his gifted and talented son. It is an intensely sad moment of regret, but also a lesson of forgiveness and resolution.

Tarzan: Finding his Family

I referenced this film in another blog. We all know the story of Tarzan, who was brought up by gorillas, but the Disney version puts emphasis on the internal conflicts that the characters face, that very much mirrors the conflicts of gay people growing up in a straight world (as well as other minorities in society). Tarzan as a child, comes to the realisation that he is different from the other apes and laments his anxieties to his Mother. She tries to cheer him up, but knows deep down that it is true. The one thing she can offer him is her love and support and through this Tarzan has the confidence to do things his own unique way and nurture his talents for the good of the family. However, it comes to a point, where he meets his own kind and he has to make a decision to leave the jungle and his family or stay where he is a minority. His mother, her heart almost breaking, tells him that whatever he decides, she just wants him to be happy.

Sometimes, we feel like we don't fit in, and discovering who you are and a community of like-minded people can be important and liberating. This is the story of empowerment of an individual who fights the discrimination and emotional dilemma's to become who he truly is, thanks to unconditional support from one person.

Chocolat: Hope amongst Hostility

Vianne is a chocolatier in a traditional French village, attempting to liberate the inhabitants from the deeply reserved and conservative culture tightly guarded by it's abstinently disciplined Comte, who is doing his best to shut her down. The resistance to her creative intentions becomes too much and just as she is about to abandon the village, the few individuals, whose lives she has touched and transformed, rally together to keep her work going. It is a deeply touching moment for me when she discovers them, because it is the same feeling I get when I see my coaching clients transformed from uncertainty to confidence and empowerment; the way I want everyone to feel. I wrote a whole blog about this film and how it relates to coaching here.


Experiencing catharsis is important. The journey of life is full of ups and downs that can profoundly impact on our feelings of stability and security. Catharsis in films and art allow us to temporarily and privately lament this inescapable truth that is universal for everyone.

Where appropriate, I encourage catharsis in my coaching sessions, in order for the client to express their deepest anxieties. It builds trust between the client and the coach, that they feel safe to go to a very private place. Once we have gone there, and the client realises that the world hasn't ended after facing some of their demons, everything else becomes much easier and the collaboration really begins, to help the client face their issue with a more clarity and courage.

Coaching can be tough, but it's my job to make you feel safe to face your barriers and truly become the person you dare to be.

Take care everybody.

Oliver

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