Explainable Reality


Alex Karpovsky is an independent filmmaker from the Boston area who recently completed his first feature-length documentary entitled "The Hole Story." The film is not a real documentary, nor is it a mockumentary. It is a fictionalized spin on what was supposed to be a real documentary with real people and real events. To learn more about the film, go to www.theholestoryfilm.com.

 

I recently attended a screening of this film at the Harvard Film Archive and was basically blown away. Here is an email I wrote to Alex in response to it. Even if you have not seen the film, I feel you will still be interested in what I have to say:

 

Alex, Thanks again for telling me about your movie. It was definitely well worth the splurge. Here are a few thoughts that are floating through my mind. I'd be curious to see if you've thought about any of these issues at all, if not on an immediate conscious level then maybe on a subconscious level at least.

 

Basically, I think your film raises issues of what I call "explainable reality" - the extent to which true reality can really be explained. God created life on earth and, as the saying goes, God works in mysterious (i.e. inexplicable) ways, so the moment when we come to a point where we're able to explain an element of life is the moment we detach ourselves from God. An explainable reality, in other words, is a reality detached from reality: an unreality or, to use a more familiar term, an illusion of reality.

 

In this sense, your character is like a walking devil (i.e. a person who pulls people away from reality and, in turn, God). You're so obsessed with getting the whole story of the hole story that you can't accept the fact that there IS no hole story and you basically make up lies in order to create the hole (and whole) story. In other words, the hole/whole story doesn't exist (literally, because the hole froze over) and your only way of getting the story is by creating a story based on illusions, whether it be through creating smoke to simulate the hole's steam, utilizing an optical effect to get your much-desired Paul Bunyan shot, or telling your interview subjects to pretend the hole is on the lake when it really isn't.

 

Your character is able to explain the hole at the end of the film, but only after the process of creating all these illusions, which nullifies the truth in your story and, in turn, makes your documentary, purpose in Brainerd and, more generally speaking, existence as a human being absolutely meaningless.

 

So your character enters a state of explainable reality by the end of the movie, but he no longer is able to function like a human being with a grip on reality. You have to detach yourself from reality (as is indicated by your tragic mental breakdown) in order to explain reality. You have to become unhuman in order to exist in an unreality.

 

Does any of this stuff strike a chord? I find it interesting, because I think it says a lot about documentaries (not to mention most other media) and how meaningless they can be if they're constantly trying to explain and thus kill life. I think we live in a culture where everything has to be explained and assimilated into a "whole" story, or a myth or a legend. Look at VH1 Behind the Music, True Hollywood Stories or all the stuff on the History/Discovery and Biography channels if you want to see what I'm talking about. All this storytelling means we're living in a culture detached from reality, a culture of unreality, or, to put it in more spiritual terms, a culture detached from God.

 

One moral of the story: The whole story can never be obtained without creating a hole story, a story with a void - a story that is meaningless and unreal. The hole in your film, I guess, is the void in reailty that our culture has created for itself in its attempt to make an explainable story out of everything. Any "true story," in this sense, is a contradiction because the only way to create a story out of reality is to reduce it to lies.

 

Anyway, if I don't hear from you, good luck with your woodpecker documentary and good luck in your pursuits to get Hole Story distributed.

 

Journal entry (deals with similar issues)

Late last night I sort of had a mini-revelation. I realized that it's almost impossible (or at least very very difficult) to make a good synopsis out of a good script. Why? Well, it all has to do with that concept of "explainable reality" I've been thinking so much about lately. A good script is a work of art, a product of the self, which is God. So, in a sense, a good script is a creation of God and anything created by God is mysterious or inexplicable. So it can't really be explained - at least not easily - certainly not in a synopsis which is one or two pages in length. In other words, writing a synopsis is turning your script into something that is easily exlplainable. And what happens in Hollywood is that bad scripts that are easy to explain get bought, optioned and green-lit, while the good scripts that aren't easy to explain get left in the dust. So everyone starts writing scripts that are easy to explain - everyone starts writing bad, but easily-pitchable scripts! Hollywood fills our culture with a bunch of explainable stories and, in turn, feeds us a reality where everything can be explained, an unreality, and thus a reality detached from God. So good pitches and easy-to-explain stories in the media, if you really think about it, are the main source behind our culture of unreality.

 


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