The truth of an image


There is a scene in the film, Stardust Memories, in which Woody Allen sits alone in a train carriage, populated by people whose faces reveal angst and despair. He looks through a window and sees into the carriage of another train, positioned parallel. In the other carriage, the passengers party, their faces alive with joy and pleasure.
For me, this scene is a perfect visual metaphor of the life experience. Its meaning transcends the image of Allen as the outsider, looking at life from the inside out; it embraces the duality of the human experience. Joy and despair are presented as polar opposites, the associated behaviour codes are mere coping strategies for reacting to the madness that is existence.
Allen’s existential angst reflects a universal truth; life is a glorified coping mechanism. When we watch the scene, we realise that we are not alone.

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