“Humans are social beings” so we find that “connecting with others is crucial” as this is “how we learn about how the world works” - Art Markman. In society, we have many connections and relationships with one another. Therefore, it is important for us to understand that the closer we are connected to people, the happier we feel and so we have more personal satisfaction in our lives. Through analysing Lars and the Real Girl by Craig Gillespie, Her by Spike Jonze, Silver Linings Playbook by David O. Russell and Black Mirror: Be Right Back by Owen Harris, I have noticed the human need for relationships. This is because as a viewer we learn about the effect of substituting human relationships, the idea that loss negatively impacts us, why a supportive community is important and most importantly that a level of maturity is needed in order to have successful relationships. Overall we are made to question our own lives, as we wonder how we can be more open to forming relationships as there can be a detrimental effect on someone when they do not feel love from the ones around them.
Throughout our lives we are all bound to lose someone, so we will all experience the feeling of grief and therefore the negative impacts it can have on our lives. In the film Her, Theodore and his wife, Catherine are going through a divorce, this loss of Theodore’s produces a negative impact on his life, as he becomes lonely. Jonze shows this through his cinematography, as Theodore is often seen in a single shot with dark lighting. We even get this impression when we see him at work and surrounded by people. This loneliness is further emphasised through the shots of him with a shallow depth of field as they visually communicate how detached Theodore is from the world around him. Jonze uses these techniques to give us a glimpse at the state of emotional purgatory Theodore is lost in as he puts himself in a void of isolation.
Similarly, Silver Linings Playbook, shows us that Pat is also experiencing a loss, as his wife, Nikki, has a restraining order against him. The director, Russell, shows us that as soon as he was released from the psychiatric hospital he wanted to change himself, usually, this is a good sign as it shows that he wants to grow and become a better person and have more control over his bipolar disorder. However, this change was not intrinsic as he wanted to change himself in order to get Nikki back. He was to do this by “read(ing) Nikki’s teaching syllabus” and “getting really fit for Nikki”. His drive was for Nikki, not for a better version for himself. The audience is made to realise that Pat’s loss has also negatively impacted his life as he is trying to please someone else in order to please himself. Theodore and Pat are in the same situation, they are both in love with their wives yet have lost them. So, as a viewer, we empathise with both of these characters because we know what it is like to lose someone close to us as it is a part of life that we have to learn to accept and cope with. But, with loss comes grief and as we can see in both the films these “feelings of grief are very subjective, different people will be affected in different ways”. Our perception as the audience is challenged as we notice that grief is more than just the 5 stages that we relate to as it can have a much larger impact on life than we thought. We reflect back onto our own lives and realise how lucky we are to have people who love and care for us, someone that will help us through the rough parts of life, to make sure we will not have to cope on our own. Within myself, I have come to realise that the people in my life like me for who I am, not the person they want me to be, as when I want to change and improve myself I don’t do it to please others, I simply do it for myself. Therefore, through analysing these two texts we are able to conclude that when we lose close relationships, we will naturally grieve, however, in turn, this can have a detrimental effect on us. This is because we can be left feeling as if we are not good enough and therefore create a negative outlook on our lives. This is all simply due to the human need for relationships.
As technology grows, the way we interact with it changes, in some cases, intimate relationships can develop - thus being a substitution for human relationships. Jonze’s film Her effectivly showed us how these substitutions of human relationships can be helpful with our problems. Throughout the film we see a montage of Theodore’s flashbacks of Catherine, this shows us that he chooses to think about these moments because even though they hurt, this is the life he yearns for. Thus, he is in a state of disunity as he is dwelling in the present but is stuck in the past. Eventually, Theodore meets an advanced operating system called Samantha, this evolves into the meaningful connection that Theodore was looking for. She is there to service all his emotional and physical needs, resulting in Theodore opening up and blossoming as a person as she helps him move on from his past with Catherine, as he realises that she is not all he wants in life. When it is time for Samantha to go away with all the other OS’s, she is actually allowing Theodore to move on with his life as she knows he is ready to face life on his own. The film ends on a long shot of Theodore and Amy sitting on the roof, giving the audience the impression a real human relationship may stem between the two. On the other hand, the episode of Be Right Back was a clear example of how these substitutions for human relationships can be detrimental in the long run. After Martha’s boyfriend, Ash passes away she replaces him with an android version of himself in order to buy more time with him. This was particularly because she had just found out she was pregnant and was not ready to go through the journey alone, the technology gave her some comfort in dealing with her loss in a moment of need. In the short run, this was beneficial to Martha as it provided her with more time to spend with him as he was taken too early. However, this also meant that she was imprisoned in a pale imitation of her old life. She was living a lie, failing to admit her true situation to her friends, family and ultimately unable to move on from her loss. The effect of this, in the long run, was very detrimental on Martha.
The end of the film flash-forwards around 7 years where the audience is able to see that she still hasn’t been able to move on from Ash, this is because she stores his android in the attic and is not seen to form a new intimate relationship. We see both Martha and Theodore substituting human relationships because of our need for relationships. They find these relationships with technology because they are unable to move on from the past and form real human relationships. Today, this idea is very relevant because technology has caused society as a whole to become unsocial. Technology is beneficial in the sense that it allows us to easily stay in contact with people and is able to help treat sick people. But it is also very destructive to our lives, as all too often we plug into our phones and bury our faces into them and forget about the outside world. This can have a large impact on our mental and physical health, as being overly connected can cause issues such as “narcissism, the expectation of instant gratification, depression, vision problems and hearing loss”. As a viewer, we realise that technology has crept into every corner of our lives and so we are challenged to think of ways to disconnect from it all the time as we do not want it to control our way of life and hence had a damaging impact on our lives.