Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost - It was All A Dream...?

The opening shot of the pilot of Lost features an eye. Jack's eye, it turns out, opening. The last shot of the end of the series, six years later again, zooms in on Jack's right eye, shutting. This film technique is a framing device. It is a bold and unambiguous choice. The first frame of any moving picture is inarguably important for setting the frame of reference for what follows. The tight focus on the single eye also implies that the story following will be intimately involved with this character's point of view. What he sees is important. The camera is in some ways his eye. To end the narrative also focused on his eye implies that everything in between was experienced by him and through him. And it raises the question, is this observer reliable? Is he experiencing a three-dimensional composite reality shared with other living human beings, or is this a private reality, a dream?

The producers' choice to roll the credits over the deserted wreckage of Oceanic flight 815 cements the latter view. While the producers ended LOST with enough ambiguity to allow differing conjectures as to what was real reality, the film technique of beginning and ending the series focused on Jack's eye proves their true intent. The entire series was a fever dream in the mind of Jack Shepherd as he lies dying on the ground after the crash of Oceanic flight 815 from Sydney. Letting go and accepting his own death is the purpose of the six-year narrative which follows, just as Jack's father Christian, leads him to do in the final scene of the final episode. It is a very, very emotional moment. While the "it was all a dream" ending is generally a copout, in this instance it works profoundly, and proves that there's life left in the old tropes, if they're executed extremely well.

1 comment:

Steve Will said...

Michael --

I figured you would write about this today. And of course, I had to do so, too:

I accept yours as the most likely interpretation of what "really" happened. Though I still believe that the intent of the creators was not to create an explicable ending.

We both loved it. That's the best part. I think the fans who are disappointed missed the themes of the series.