In a movie from the silent era titled 'Safety Last' (1923), Harold Lloyd is shown hanging from the minute hand of huge tower clock. Perhaps, it was an expression, where one was trying to control or hold the time ‘still’. The title of another movie ‘No hands on the Clock’ (1941) fascinates me because it suggests the freedom from the bondage of time. But the fact is that though there are no hands on the clock, the pendulum still oscillates.
While visiting an historical place, I mentally time travel to that particular period. I imagine that I had been in that same place as the King or the Queen or may be the well-known sculptor at that time. Also, I always dream big of having a fantastic future. But after a while I realise, that though my mind is capable of being in the past or future at any point of time, in reality how much ever I try to control, I can neither go back to that particular moment of the history nor can I be in the future because ‘time’ is a wheel which keeps moving ahead constantly.
Interestingly, movies have the capacity to manipulate 'time' just like our minds have. With camera techniques, movies control the moment and play with it. They can show the moment in high speed (slow motion), faster than the real and freeze the action too.
Robert Enrico’s short film ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’ (1962) about a civilian prisoner’s imagination of escaping his execution, meeting his beloved wife and his actual execution. Major part of the film is about his imagination. The film’s duration is almost 24 minutes. The actual running time between the soldiers tying the noose to his neck and he getting executed could be of just few minutes, but in the film, the time duration of the dream sequence is so much extended that the actual time taken is stretched.
In the movies of Andrew Tarkovsky and Adoor Gopalkrishnan, the longevity and the slowness of a particular sequence or a shot, compel one to be in that particular moment. One might actually feel that one is almost captured and captivated so to remain ‘there’ until one is allowed to move on to the next moment. Their stubbornness to freeze the moment and the reluctance to let the audience move on to the next moment, puts a pause to the present and transfers the audience into a kind of a meditative state, where nothing else matters but that moment. The sculptures, paintings and photographs also have the similar capacity.
In one of the most discussed twentieth century's Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali's painting titled 'The Persistence of Memory' (1931), commonly called as 'Clocks', three clocks are melting away and one red clock is getting eaten by the ants. Critiques have attempted to explain the painting but to me it means that the time never stops and whatever is gone, will get decayed. Hence one has to respect the ongoing moment, the present.
'Present', what a beautiful word! May be the present is a 'present’, a gift to us from the Mother Nature. So why don't we experience each and every moment of the present to the fullest? May be now, we should just relax, enjoy and live in the present. Yes, I am going to give a full justice to the ‘present’, every moment of it, here after.
(The author is an actor, singer, director and writer).