Why should we watch movies like Still Alice?
I mean, besides for being a Julianne Moore fan.
The premise of the movie is depressing. It’s about a fifty year- old woman who discovers she has early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
The day after watching Still Alice, I drove in the car with two of my adult children.
“Why would you watch that? It’s so sad,” one of them said after I disclosed that I’d watched the movie the night before. “Wouldn’t you prefer to laugh?”
I stopped to think about that. After all, I did know the premise of the movie beforehand. And based on what I knew, I also knew the ending couldn’t have been of the happily ever after ilk.
So why did I watch it?
“People choose to watch movies like Still Alice to learn something or to feel something,” my other child said.
Maybe I watched it out of fear, somewhat relating to Julian Moore’s character, and wanting to make sure the things I’d been forgetting lately were no big deal.
In the New York Times piece, Imagining the Lives of Others, which I coincidentally read only moments after the car ride with my children, I stumbled across the following question, “Just how successful are we at seeing the world as others see it?”
According to the article, we’re not very good at it; and I must say, I agree. Over the last few years, I’ve come to realize that as much as I might try, I can’t walk in someone else’s shoes.
It is impossible for me to know the experience of others: someone else's physical pain, the pain of losing a loved one, divorce, addiction, depression.
But this doesn't mean I shouldn't try.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
Yes, watching Still Alice was difficult and even though it’s impossible to entirely understand the experience of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, we have to attempt to empathize, try to put ourselves in the shoes of others, even if momentarily.
We have to do this.
It’s what makes us still human.