There is a Tom Waits lyric;
"That's not the road, it is only the map" ("The Part You Throw Away")
This I think, is a fairly applicable statement for all art, and especially true of film.
Film is after all the medium that can most look like the world we see around us (wonderfully it can also be most unlike the world we see around us), and it is not impossible for one to confuse memory of sight, with memory of image.
Film isn't the road; it is not our life, it is not our journey.
But film is the map; it is our lives, it is our journeys.
Film is the map of empathy.
The map we can use to understand and meet the other.
The map we can use to feel not only the hurt of others, but the hurt we cause others.
Film is the map of relationships.
The map we can use to know.
Know, even those closest to us.
Know, through the wisdom and folly of others, who they can & cannot be; who we can & cannot be.
Film is the map of community.
No one person is going to feel or experience everything that is portrayed on film.
Not every story is our story, not every choice one we will have to make.
But a community may.
A community is made up of more feelings, more experiences, more choices.
The story of the cinema, the grand directory of film; provides a language for the whole community -
because there is nothing a person can feel, experience, or choose that is not mapped out on film.
A map which continues to expand and deepen.
Film's not the road, it is only the map... but never underestimate a map.
A map is useful before the road, on the road, and after the road.
A map names.
A map explores.
Regardless of how many roads our feet have trod, it is the map that draws it all together.
Showing one road's relation to another.
Displaying the interwoven and interdependent nature of it all.
A map explores and reports, guides and grows, informs and evolves.
This is why a bad film is so abhorrent;
it misdirects us, it leads us down dead ends, it leads us away from the road, or worse -
it portrays the road for something the road is not.
This is why a good film is holy;
it is revelation -
life & people, stories & choices are mapped & disclosed, told & retold, learnt & embraced.