How director and star create emotional power with glimpses of memories in ‘Aftersun’
John Patrick Shanley has always been a filmmaker obsessed with childhood. One of the first movies Shanley made to come out of his fascination was “Bambi,” a film that had the distinct feeling of a retelling of an old story. “I think that we were like these little boys going back to the forest with their bows and arrows,” Shanley said of making “Bambi.”
This is very much the feeling conveyed in the opening scene of “Aftersun” — that is, to Shanley’s heart, and the heart of the audience. Like a lost movie from his childhood, the scene begins with a long, long list of memories, leading to the revelation of the most important fact of all — the title itself. The film begins with an old memory that is now coming to life as its own dream — the memory of a young child with his mother, holding the doll that now is the love of his life. That love is the love that has now become his love for the entire world, and for every living soul. And as this truth is revealed, the film has the strength of the most complex and emotional of all stories.
The heart of “Aftersun” is the memory of a lost childhood
As the journey has been described by Shanley, the story of a young, lost boy was the seed from which everything grew. “I was born in San Francisco in 1968. I was told that at the time that the first person outside our family to see me was my father because he was working as a doctor in New York at the time,” Shanley explained in his blog on the film, where he wrote this about the origins of “Aftersun.” As a result, he was always very close to his father. “It is one of the great mysteries to me that I spent the majority of my childhood looking out of windows and watching the street. My father never would let me leave the house, even for a short period, as