I have been studying the vision of Lehi from the Book of Mormon recently and have been impressed with the weight that this intangible vision carried in conveying a message. It was surreal, yet the Lord used it to convey truth to Lehi. What’s even more interesting is how Lehi responds to it. As far as the record indicates, Lehi’s admonition to Laman and Lemuel afterwards, his oldest sons, is based solely on what he learned about them from the vision.
Can you see the implication of this to our media projects?
This is how I read it, or these are where my thoughts are currently– truth can be conveyed in an engaging and entertaining fashion. The notion that truth is our best efforts to replicate what actually happened as best we can, holds less and less weight and validity for me. And with it crumble the justification to depict violence, sex, or any other malady, under the pretense that “this is how it really is”.
Truth can be conveyed in the most abstract and expressionistic form imaginable if in the end the feeling that is produced within the end viewer resonates and reinforces the truth. Just as music has the power to breath life into static lyrics, a visually crafted message can reinforce meaning that the written text can only state.
This is a liberating thought to think that we need not be obsessed with the reality of something, when in all actuality, even our best efforts could never perfectly depict what really happened. Instead we are to convey what happened with our visual mediums in such a way that the viewer can sense for themselves, even appreciate the events witnessed.
This is how a movie, like Babe, can convey so much truth with use of animals as the main characters in the story.
By way of example only, think of what a film about Joseph Smith’s First Vision could be if we stepped away from trying to replicate in exactness the visual experience and instead approached it more abstractly, like a Minerva Tiechart painting, finding ways to depict his feelings leading up to the moment, at the time of the visitation, and afterwards.
With all the many different visual elements that are available to be employed, we can and ought to learn as much about the different ways of visually telling a story as possible. This is how we truly communicate meaning and compelling stories to our viewers.