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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
An Author's Mission
by Betty Jo Tucker

After watching Disaster Movie and The House Bunny during the same week, I found a way out of my deep funk by reading a unique and provocative book called Deep Cinema: Film as Shamanic Initiation. While not understanding everything presented by author Mary Trainor-Brigham, I greatly admire her encouragement of deeper cinematic storytelling. How does she think filmmakers can achieve this goal? Through a Renaissance of Indigenous wisdom. 

“We find ourselves in urgent need of a Renaissance of Indigenous teachings which lie all about us globally, like a scattering of gems from Eden, unrecognized,” Trainor-Brigham explains. “The best creative endeavors exceed the mutant marketplace and belong to All, showing Artists to be facets and forces of Nature.”

Drawing on her passion for cinema and indigenous cultures, the author takes readers on a journey aimed at dramatically changing their way of looking at film -- perhaps even giving them “a sense of Shamanic Soul.” After all, Shamans were the first storytellers, Trianor-Brigham reminds us. She believes spirit is at work in cinema and explains how basic human behavior can be dealt with more meaningfully in films by capitalizing on that fact.

Trainor-Brigham emphasizes shamanic cosmology in her analysis of various movies here, and I found her critiques to be quite profound. They reveal deeper meanings in such films as Whale Rider, Thunderheart, Dead Man, Memoirs of a Geisha, Blood Diamond, Lantana, The Secret of Roan Innish, and What Dreams May Come.  

Because Dead Man is one of only three movies starring Johnny Depp I haven’t enjoyed, I plan to revisit that film after reading what Trainor-Brigham wrote about it. “With elements quirky, droll, mystical, gruesome, and at times downright deranged, this elegantly black-and-white buddy-on-horseback movie manages to give weight to the Native man’s perspective merely by making the white man’s so ‘lite,’” she points out. 

I'm somewhat ashamed to compare that in-depth critique to my superficial complaints concerning Dead Man being too old-fashioned.  

Even though I love movies primarily for their escapist entertainment value, I can't help sharing Trainor-Brigham’s concern about “lite” films taking over the multiplexes now. An Art Therapist with a Master’s Degree in Culture and Spirituality, Trainor-Brigham is on the right track with her mission to help change that situation. More power to her.

(For additional information about Deep Cinema: Film as Shamanic Initiation, published by Michael Wiese Productions, please click here.)

Listen to Mary Trainor-Brigham discuss Deep Cinema on Movie Addict Headquarters by clicking here on or after September 23, 2008.

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