WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. DON'T READ IF YOU PLAN TO SEE IT. READ IT AFTER.
Ben and I saw this movie last night. I highly recommend it, objectively. It was well done, with a good story. The animation was beautiful.
Subjectively, I had a rather strange reaction to the film. For a number of reasons, which, of course since this IS a blog post, I shall elucidate.
The movie is based on the book,The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs which was copyrighted in 2001. This date may or may not be important. I include it only as a curiosity in the unfolding of circumstantial events.
I used to work at the Disney studios, in the feature animation division. It was during the magical time that was presented in the documentary "Waking Sleeping Beauty." I still need to see that film. Anyway, that's when I worked there. Of course I was writing at the same time, but this was long before the advent of blogging and Facebook and Twitter and all such media creations for the masses to expel their mental ditherings, much like the expulsion from a giant zit.
Back in the early '90's, I wrote a treatment for an animated film. It was set in New Orleans. It was about a little girl who saves the life of a caterpillar. But not just any caterpillar. The prince caterpillar who is destined to become the butterfly king of the insect world in her back yard. The caterpillar, after being rescued by the little girl, is kidnapped by the cockroaches living in the little girl's house. The little girl is transformed into tiny size, because she helped before so she has to help now, to rescue the caterpillar and save the bugs in the back yard. There's a lot more to it, but you get the idea.
This story did not lie around my apartment gathering dust. I registered it with the Writer's Guild. This sort of "protects" it for 10 years. There are film folks who send minions in to read things registered here for the pilfering of story ideas. In addition, there is a dynamic in the film industry where more than one person at one time comes up with the same or similar story or ideas. I saw this quite often when I was working for a film bonding company and read the scripts that came in for review.
I also had lunch with the president of the animated film division and pitched the story to him. He said it was "sweet."
The 10 years passed and I forgot to renew the registration at the WG. A film called "The Ant Bully" came out awhile back, with a lot of similar elements to my story. I chalked it up to coincidence. If it was pilfered, it was indeed "my bad."
Then comes Epic. Nearly 10 years later, the book was written. Then the film is released this weekend. Before I go any further, I want to say here clearly that I also chalk all this up to coincidence. Bizarre coincidence. But I do not believe there was any intentionality at play here. At least on the human side of things.
The book and the story have the elements from my story of shrinking a human girl to bug size in order to save a kingdom. It's an animated film, as my story was a treatment for an animated film. None of these things is strange. So far.
While watching the film, there was a repetitive story thread of dire situations that seemed to be resolved, with happiness and celebration ensuing, only to be followed by a worse situation. I leaned over to Ben at the third such occurrence and said "This is the story of my life." No big deal. There are many movies out there that I can relate to in this way.
But near the end of the film, it started to occur to me that there were just a few more coincidences happening than these.
In Epic, the main character's name is "Mary Katherine." She makes an issue of being called "M.K." I am known as "L.J." to my colleagues and friends. I make an issue of this as well. Just one letter off from Epic's young lady. In Epic, "M.K." has red hair, with bangs. When I worked at Disney and wrote my treatment, I had red hair and bangs. "M.K." has big green eyes. I have big green eyes.
For some reason, when all of these coincidences hit me at the end of the film, it made me cry. And I'm not a cryer. Especially not in public. But I pulled myself together with the realization that these are just a motley collection of bizarre coincidences and circumstantial curiosities. Any other explanation is just plain crazy wacko.
Then we walked outside to go to the car. The climax of the film involves the necessity of a full moon's light to bathe a special flower bud, triggering it's bloom, in order to save the forest. When we walked out last night, there was an enormous full moon above us. Ben and I looked at each other and did an OMG gape.
But still. I chalk it up to bizarre coincidence. The wry side of me is saying "Fine. If the universe has a message for me, I certainly can't figure out what the heck it is. A note would be clearer." Unless it's in the denouement of Epic's story, which involves the young lady falling for one of the leaf men soldiers, but never being able to have a real relationship in a physical sense after finally acknowledging their feelings for each other. And my recent return to dating.
....that's me. Always cheerful, even in the face of magical universal coincidences. Though I must confess that I did look at myself this morning, very closely in the mirror, searching for a black outline around my silhouette.