Thursday, November 25, 2010

Remember Me's Tag Line - "Live in the Moments"

As a Thanksgiving treat, Jessegirl has written a lovely article that examines Remember Me's tag line and title in terms of Remember Me's past, present and future.

~by jessegirl November 25, 2010

So many audience members, commenting on their experience of Remember Me, express their take on its tag line, “live in the moments”. Invariably they see it as a message about life, even a lesson, which the film has brought home to them. Some take it to heart and vow to change their behaviour. In essence, people interpret it as a call to appreciate and be thankful for what they have now. This has something is common with the message of the North American Thanksgiving holiday.

Will Fetters’ simple words—which did not make it into the film—are, I think, most indicative of the tag line’s meaning. From the original script:

"You can’t know
So don’t take it for granted
But don’t take it too seriously
Don’t postpone what you want
Don’t leave anything misunderstood
Make sure the people you care about know
Make sure they know how you really feel
Because just like that
It could end."

Tag Lines:
Let’s backtrack a bit.

Tag lines are created for marketing purposes and act like catchy sub-titles which give people a little bit more information about the film, especially its tone. So we have: “It’s a job. It isn’t personal...well, maybe a little”, which lets everyone know that The Bounty Hunter isn’t a serious drama but is a romantic comedy.

This device will help pull in the right audience. Some titles, like She’s Out of My League, need little explanation, but tag lines like: “How can a 10 go for a 5?” are one-line promises that you will have a good laugh when you see the movie. One of Hurt Locker’s tag lines implies gritty nobility: “You don’t have to be a hero to do this job. But it helps.”

And Alice in Wonderland goes for the biggest demographic in its unabashed “Fantastic fun for the whole family”. Most of Dear John’s many tag lines emphasized gushy romance, for example: “Love brought them together. Will fate tear them apart?” This reads like something off the back cover of a Harlequin romance.

Generally speaking, I don’t think this marketing tool is meant to deliver a life lesson or philosophical message. Although Precious indicated hard-core realism capped by a general conclusion about life, spelling it out for you: “Life is hard. Life is short. Life is painful. Life is....Precious.”

I have never, as I recall, taken tag lines to heart or pondered them in any way. They’re just the slogans or jingles for movies, nothing more. “Live in the Moments” is no exception and never struck me as being very meaningful. At first it even sounded trite to me. The film itself is profound in its exquisite execution of a poignant story. Once seen, the film begs a wise tag line, something which will stick with you. For me the title, ‘Remember Me’, doesn’t need anything else.

Live in the Moments:
Bear with me as I analyze this phrase a bit. It can be taken many ways.
Jimmy Fallon, in his interview with Pattinson, determined, off the cuff, the tag line meant: “Do what you want, ‘cause you never know what’s going to happen.” He was kidding. This reminds me of the old song, “Let’s live for today”, which has a reckless connotation and seems hedonistic, an endless party, you know, sex-drugs-rock-‘n-roll. Enjoy but don’t take responsibility.

Or does it mean carpe diem, because if you don’t seize the day it will be lost? That you will have wasted it? Some of those commenting use words like:
Live –intensely, every moment of your life;
Live –in the best possible way;
Live –in the present (not in the past);
Live –life to the fullest;
Live –a good life, with good intentions;
Live –every day as if it were your last;

The thing is, what is the best, the fullest, a good life, to one person is different for another. The terrorists attacking that day no doubt thought they were living that day as if it were their last, living it to the fullest. Believe me, they seized that day!

The tag line, by itself, has nothing to anchor it and clarify it. Living in the moments means nothing separated from Will’s words about expressing love to those you care about because “just like that, it could end”. “I love you,” Tyler and Ally said to each other that last morning. That was what was important. That was part of what Will meant. It’s not living for today because you don’t know what tomorrow brings. It’s telling and showing the people you care about love, because anything could happen tomorrow, anything could take them away, or you, like Tyler was taken away. Just like that.

Live in the moments”, without the rest of the sentiment, can be interpreted too many ways and is not good enough to carry the burden of insistence. (While I am pondering all this, am I ‘living in the moment’?)

Past, Present, Future:
It’s ironic that the title and the tag line contradict each other. If you are remembering, you are living in the past, not ‘in the moments’, not in the present. Everything about memorializing, never forgetting, is bringing the past into the present, keeping the past—in this case, Tyler’s life and 9/11—present, always. And ‘always’ means the future.

And when people ‘get on with their lives’, it means they work towards a future, like Aiden, buckling down to his studies because his friend’s death sobered him up pretty quickly. So Aiden’s partying mode, his ‘live for today’ way of being, was discarded for a more serious attitude. I don’t think Aiden and Tyler left things unsaid between them. I think they knew they loved each other.

One of the most significant things we do is ponder the past and learn from it. And we are always in the past when we are grieve, re-living the moments we had that person with us, or those moments we screwed up—all the Hawkins except Caroline do this—or moments we had no power over—like Ally in the subway, or Neil, absent at a crucial time. Grieving takes us to the dark night of the soul, to confront monsters more powerful than those in any fantasy world.

Grieving is not just a snap-shot parade of remember-me-moments which we want to relive—like Charles—or a journal in which we talk to the lost love because we miss him so much—like Tyler; it is guilt that we didn’t get it right, that we were somehow responsible. And guilt keeps us stuck in the past. Guilt is a very necessary thing, in the right circumstances; it would, for example, have served the hijackers well. Instead, they deluded themselves into thinking they were martyrs while they were slaughtering innocents. I bring this up to remind us that guilt has its purpose but, like any necessary thing, it can be misplaced.

Why should Tyler feel guilty about Michael? And why should he think Michael is guilty? Why should Neil feel guilty, for not being there, in the subway, that night? Diane and Charles, like any parents who lose a child, whether that child is a baby or a young adult, whether through accident, illness, murder, feel guilty because it is their job to protect. A dead child means you’ve failed. And some of the guilt could be well placed. Perhaps—we don’t know the details---Charles was so overbearing that he killed Michael’s hope for his future. (I’ll get back to hope and the future later.)

Living in the Past:
If anything obliterates the present, it is grief. A veil or film lies between the mourner and the world. He experiences things through filmy glasses; he knows the day is clear but an invisible veil hampers him from seeing it that way. It is removed from him, just out of reach, not quite there.

In many ways, Tyler’s preoccupation illustrates this [I covered this fully in Tyler in Remember Me - The Human Face of Tragedy and Tyler's Journal ] When Tyler keeps scribbling in his journal, he is in that other world. Should he be more present, more ‘in the moment’? Should he be fully present to what is in front of him? Well, apart from the fact that he can’t be, I don’t think he should be either, not at all. Tyler’s ruminations about his brother and about life are crucial to his healing and to the way he will be able to live his life in the future.

And should Charles refrain from living in the frozen past of his family’s life as it loops on his screensaver? It might not be the best way to keep his family close, but at least it includes them all, and he can imagine Michael there, imagine life before he and Diane parted ways.

But Charles is treasuring a past when the family was intact, instead of making sure his loved ones know every day that he loves them. The wall he has built around himself to shield him from his own guilt and loss has to come down so that he can turn to his loved ones instead of turning them away.

Charles needs a wake-up call, and Tyler desperately tries to give him one. One of the saddest things in the story is that Charles was just beginning to waken out of his guilt-induced stupor when Tyler died. Charles is the character who most needs to ‘live in the moments’, to cease taking for granted what he has. The irony may be that by living in the past, seeing Michael’s face every day at his desk, he is giving thanks for what he had but ignoring the beautiful children he has left.

Weighted down with real or misplaced guilt, the characters are stuck in the past and grappling with their internal demons. What will get them out of it? Well, in this way the film was perfect. Tyler’s voice-over, simple, short yet eloquently saying it all: “and I forgive you”. This is the biggie. This is the hardest thing, yet it is the only thing which will get all of them out of the past. Tyler has forgiven his father, and Michael. It is unstated, but Tyler has also forgiven himself, -for not being what he couldn’t be for Michael, for being what he shouldn’t have been to Ally, and just for surviving. That’s why Tyler is so serene at the end.

Coulter, Fetters and Pattinson thought it was just acceptance, but it went deeper.
We all saw that calm and serene softening look on Tyler’s face; he was untroubled, facing the day. It is ironic, but at the end Tyler was living fully in the moment. He was healing. Relationships wouldn’t be miraculously smooth sailing, but a good start had been made. After forgiveness, we can heal. Until then, not. Until then, ‘live in the moments’ is impossible.

The Future:
I have touched on the past: “Remember Me”.
I have talked about the present: “Live in the Moments”.

And what about the future? Well, it is what can be faced, as Tyler did at the end, only after forgiveness and love has made it possible to heal. The future is Charles and Diane linking arms at the gravesite. It is Aiden becoming studious. It is Charles with his arm on Caroline’s shoulder, then holding her hand in the museum. It is Neil and Ally hugging each other tightly. It is Ally on the subway, holding fast to her memories of her mother and of Tyler, and then letting their spirits go. None of them take each other for granted anymore. But it took the death of their dear Tyler and Janine to do that. It took death. It was a high price.

Remember Me explores the past and bids us never to forget. It reminds us to make the most of every moment, make sure the people in our lives know how we feel about them. And, Remember Me points us in the direction of a hopeful future.

The future is being able to believe that the spirits of Ally’s mother, of Michael, of Janine, of Tyler, can and will both stay with their loved ones, yet also soar away. Stay and soar. Their fingerprints will never fade from our lives. They will touch us and we can hear them, always. The future is hope.

Tyler at that window. Our hearts stop. But. Tyler at that window is hope.
He has to know we can hear him.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Love Letters for Remember Me

Congratulations to our sister site, Regards sur le film Remember Me - Looking at Remember Me who has posted their 100th post!

The feature of this lovely post is Love Letters for Remember Me. The post is filled with artwork and editorials about the film, submitted by the followers of the blog.

Please take a couple of minutes to check out the beautiful artwork and writing.