Motifs in 2012 Cinema: Appreciation of Life

Andrew, over at Encore's World of Film and TV is hosting a blogging project regarding motifs in Cinema. Choosing only films from 2012, he presented a list of themes to pick from, and I chose appreciation of life.

Motifs in Cinema is a discourse across 22 film blogs, assessing the way in which various thematic elements have been used in the 2012 cinematic landscape. How does a common theme vary in use from a comedy to a drama? Are filmmakers working from a similar canvas when they assess the issue of death or the dynamics of revenge? Like most things, a film begins with an idea - Motifs in Cinema assesses how the use of a common theme across various films changes when utilised by different artists. - Andrew, Encore Entertainment

Appreciation of Life:

Finding the silver lining

The first film that comes to mind is Silver Linings Playbook. The entire premise is about finding the silver lining. Pat messed up, he let rage take over, and now he's determined to make it right. He will turn everything negative into a positive. Excelsior is his motto. Both Pat and Tiffany help each other heel after they've been to hell and back. Pat complains after reading a book with a bleak conclusion: "Why can't we just have a happy ending for once?" Well, his and Tiffany's hard work pays off, and it's a happy ending they get. They've found the silver lining, and they appreciate their life together.

Creating the perfect life

In Ruby Sparks, Calvin, after suffering from serious writer's block creates the perfect girl for him. When she suddenly appears, it's his dream come true. Whatever he types, Ruby does. He loves her little legs, and the fact that she's an artist, but soon Calvin stops appreciating her for what she is, and takes advantage. Ultimately he lets her go, and takes a good look at himself. All of that power got in his way of appreciating his life. He doesn't need to control every little thing Ruby does, he just needed to get an idea, put it on paper, and hopefully he'll get another chance to meet someone that's perfect for him.

If anyone appreciates life, it's Jean Valjean of Les Miserables. He has been given a second chance after prison. After a factory worker under his supervision is fired, falls ill, and dies, Valjean takes it upon himself to find this woman's daughter and raise her well. While he's still being pursued by the law, he has time to raise Cosette into a fine young lady and to let her go to the man she loves. On his death bed, he looks content with how everything ended.  

To rise

To say Bruce Wayne's very life is tested in The Dark Knight Rises is a serious understatement. Bane seeks to destroy everything Batman is about, but he won't go down with a fight. Batman needed to go back to being Bruce Wayne to regain his appreciation of not only his life, but all of Gotham's. He had to test himself mentally and physically to rise above the darkness. He saves the city, passes on his vigilante duties, and starts to enjoy the ride without living secluded. He lives the life that Alfred always hoped he would live.

Helping those in need

Nothing says "appreciation of life" than helping others in need. That's what the Canadian Ambassador did for his American friends in Argo. Instead of only looking out for himself, he extends a helping hand to his southern neighbors, and they are able to escape the unrest in Iran. To fully appreciate your life, you need to appreciate others, and that's exactly what happened here. As an American, I love Canada. Always have. This is just one of the many reasons.

I decided to end this piece with something a little different. With a film that does not follow the motif of "appreciation of life." Instead, it gambles it away, and cheers when things go wrong.

For the sake of entertainment

Without blowing the big ending of The Cabin In The Woods too much, this is a pretty good example of not appreciating life. These 5 twenty somethings are put in an impossible scenario, with an entire business of people watching, making bets on who dies first, what kills them, and how long it will take. Even when we get the big reveal, it's still not enough to sacrifice clueless people. Although, we can't really blame our brood for saying essentially saying "fuck it" in it's darkest hour.


  1. Love this. And I especially enjoyed your thoughts about Silver Linings Playbook and Argo. Two very different depictions of the appreciation of life, but two excellent ones nonetheless. Great job!

  2. This is great!! I still haven't finished my post yet but I also choose Silver Linings in one of them. I like your concise but solid points on each of these, I might go with your style for mine. Well done!

  3. Great post! I love your thoughts on Les Miserables and the theme of redemption.

  4. Hmm, I wouldn't have chosen "The Dark Knight Rises" here but good call including it. It probably goes further to showing how, perhaps, one can't really "appreciate" life until one gives up things like work duties which take up our time. (Or in the case of Pat giving up focusing on a losing marriage battle.)

  5. this is really interesting. I would never even think to include the latter four movies in this theme, but you sum them up quite well. Though I didn't like Ruby Sparks, I do think it belongs in this theme. You really brought up its best points.


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