What we create vs. what we imitate (part II)

Yesterday I wrote about Speilberg’s 2002 movie A.I. that I just watched for the first time the other night.  Let’s get back to the Kazakh film director, Tursunov and what he wrote about Kazakh cinematography: “I once wrote a comedy but somehow it turned into a drama. Maybe it is because dramas are more engrained in the genes of our people than other genres. We love dramatizing. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to laugh at himself even though it is a sign of good health.” In further defense of his movie he said: “Kelin” was not an attempt to shock people but an effort to return us to ourselves. We have forgotten who we were and who we are. Our society is affected by many illnesses and many of us carry the virus of national exclusiveness. My movie has an element of shock therapy to wake people up.”

Did Speilberg’s movie wake the American people up? I don’t think so, it was too long and drawn out and fantasy-like to be taken seriously. I think the underlying message he wanted to say was: “Be careful what you create that it doesn’t take over who you are.” But who ARE we as Americans? We are supposedly independent, creative, innovative, risk takers and have a tinge of pioneer spirit left in us inherited from our ancestors. We survived as a people because we thought outside the box. Maybe Speilberg meant our huge dependence on computers where we do most of our communication and get our business transactions done. However, if an Ice Age should ever come or if we are flooded out by the oceans, what do we have left? Predictably we would be immobilized and frozen in our communication and means of surviving and no reason for living. I liked the boy actor in A.I., but there was nothing that grabbed my heart, the movie itself did not have soul. The robot boy David in the story did not have a soul or spirit. End of story.

What did film maker Tursunov try to accomplish in “Kelin?” He wants his movie to be known as a parable and not a documentary. He wants the old times of Kazakhstan to be presented in a modern way. “Only then can our views be consecutive. We look at ourselves and our roots and become more unified against outside elements. We will again tell the story of Yer-Tostik to our children and not a fairy tale about Sponge Bob. Our Aldar-Kose will not look like Shrek.”

I like what Tursunov has to say in relation to his movie because it DOES relate to what I’m doing here as a western educator in Kazakhstan. This film maker wrote: “We are often interested in the surface meaning without even trying to understand the original meaning, which was lost a long time ago. This is the reason we are always dashing from one extreme to another. It is also why we become so vulnerable to strangers’ cultural and mythological ideas. We have nothing to oppose them with. We sing strangers’ songs, dance strangers’ dances and think by strangers’ categories. We no longer create but imitate everything: from the manner in which we dress, to the way we speak. The myth, where we saw ourselves as a part of the great populated universe, has been washed out of us.”

Speilberg warns about being careful what we create, Tursunov is concerned about what his fellow countrymen imitate. I’m in the middle of this tug-of-war battle as a westerner wanting to promote what I know works as education for my own country because of our cultural background and heritage. However, to import what worked for us as Americans to a land that has a very rich, deep and proud heritage of their own is a recipe for more drama, more heartache, more soulful derision.

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