Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I Love a Good Montage

Life coaching; Marcus style.

You know the drill. The hero of the movie gets beaten by the baddie. He’s on the ground with his face in the dirt while the villain runs off with the hero’s girl.

Then comes that most beautiful of cinematic techniques: The Montage.

FLASH: he’s doing press-ups. FLASH: he’s running on the beach. FLASH: he’s sitting looking out across the ocean, his steely gaze a picture of resolve and determination. FLASH: more running. FLASH: he’s doing pull-ups. FLASH: he’s been laid out on the ground by his sparring partner. FLASH: more running. FLASH: he’s looking at a photo of his girl, looking up, clenching his fist and…. FLASH: more running (in the rain this time). FLASH: he decks his sparring partner in a dimly lit boxing ring, wipes his hands and walks away. (If that description didn’t cut it, you can see a pretty sweet training montage here)

What I am proposing is that we take this marvellous piece of movie-making genius and translate it, in some measure, into our very lives. I will refer to this self-motivating technique simply as a ‘montage’ even though the precise definition differs from its cinematic equivalent.

In it’s most basic and primitive form, a montage consists of doing anything (but preferably something kind of important) to epic, moving or just ‘movie-like’ music. The music is, however, only the catalyst in creating a mentality that the action being done is part of a much larger narrative. Beautiful in its simplicity, and poetic in its capacity to inspire, the montage is truly a powerful tool in the arsenal of any truly great man.

Some people will tell you it’s a sign of insanity to pretend to be in a movie when you’re not. I would argue that it can be immensely helpful. A few examples will suffice. The concept of the montage has acted as the catalyst for getting me doing press-ups, brought fresh motivation to our surveying ‘maths club,’ and even inspired the writing of some of the poetry you can read on this site.

The real value of the montage, I think, is in the fact that it causes the person doing it to view that action in light of a bigger and more profound narrative. That is, it can lift otherwise mundane actions into the vital stepping stones on the path to a deeply significant climax. The narrative I have in mind here is no less than the entire history of mankind, from our origins until the final apocalyptic days. To a greater or lesser degree, our actions will leave a mark on our chapter of history, and doing a montage causes me to consider what that mark will be.

You need to choose your montage music carefully, so that it is appropriate for the situation you find yourself in, however I have some general recommendations:

Survivor – Eye of the Tiger

Anberlin – (*fin)

Blindside – Shekina

Lost Prophets – Last Train Home

Mychael and Jeff Danna – The Blood of Cu Chalainn (irish jig at start of Boondock Saints)

Snow Patrol – Make This Go On Forever

Yellow Card – Only One

Any music from epic movies, of which I would especially recommend The Bourne Supremacy Soundtrack, Pirates of the Caribbean and, to a lesser degree, Chicken Run and Gladiator.

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