Humans are a species joined by our stories. Our histories, our myths, our legends, all of those things unite us in ways that images alone cannot. Stories are the connective tissue between us and the unifying light that marks the path of humanity both forward and back.
As a writer I am always keen to create my own myths, meaning that I want to write stories or create art that has meaning deeper than the surface. I want to create things that stay with you. Now, not everything will, but some things may. That’s my hope. In ways I have worked to that end. I have towns that re-appear. Characters. Themes. Ideas. Echoes that ring through many works How impactful it all is for other people I can’t say but the hope is that it sticks with some.
Anyone that knows my film interests knows very well how much I love the film THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and how much it means to me. Its release was one of those times in my life where a lot of things were happening at once. I had followed news about the film before it was picked up. I followed it when it first screened. I obsessed over the website and its tantalizing mysteries. I adored the faux documentary that lead into the film. Even the film itself was something special as I saw it at a midnight screening in an art house a week before it went national, catching it with friends. We were able to see it before much of the world and we saw it before the world got a chance to fall in adn then out of love with it.
And ya know what, it’s a movie, in the end. That’s all it is. The rest is what I got from it, and took from it. But all of that was only because there was a germ of something to take.
Beneath the simple story of three young filmmakers that went missing in the woods of Maryland while making a documentary there is something else, there’s a mythology that caught me up in its webbing and I, like so many others, started to think about those woods, and that witch, and that curse.
A second film was made, and while it’s got its moments, its real power was stolen when the studio butted in and made the director add things to the story that changed his vision. It was an interesting addition though and stoked the fires even further. There was a fantastic follow up book that was done after the original film, a sort of sequel in its own right, and then there were comics and games, and a lot of things that were all just ways to make more money on the original property. It was The Blair Witch, the third and most recent film, that expanded things and added to the mythology.
This story of a woman murdered by her adopted home. The power of her rage so great as to infect the woods and to break time there. A rage so great as to span out over centuries, those who cross into her woods becoming hers, becoming her cbildren and serving her will. There is no defeating her, there is scarcely any notion of escaping her. She is the woods and anyone that angers her will face her wrath.
I adore that. I adore that mythology because there’s so much yet so little. The first film, with the additional documentaries that were made about aspects of the mythology, set the table and gave you the rules. The third film changed and added to them, showing you what became of those that fell prey to her.
And yeah, it’s a movie.
It’s not renowned or esteemed like many other franchises, and it’s not an uplifting or relatable tale to bring us together. But it’s a mythology as old as Man, the tale of the darkness and the woods and how dangerous these things can be if we aren’t safe. Those are the stories, the myths, that draw me. The warnings. The tales that tell us to venture no further lest you pay the price. And there is always a price. But there is also always the willingness to dare to step into those woods, into that darkness, in the vain hope of conquering it. And we do, by feet. By inches. We defeat the darkness and beat it back, even if it returns eventually.
There’s power in stotytelling. In myths. We are drawn together around the communal fire to hear them and to tell them. We take to social media to tell our stories, in images and words.
Our lives are but a collection of stories waiting to be told.
I am happy to have my opportunity to tell my stories, and happy to have things like the Blair Witch to inspire the darkness in me that fuels my own myths.