writer/director's notes: tied to a chair

I believe that in America we are finally ready to stop discarding women when they turn forty and treating them as invisible. My heroine is over forty and she is a joy to know and to follow. I believe the market for empowering tales of women who have lived long enough to know something of life is going to be a huge one.

Tied to a Chair is completely fictitious. I have chosen to film a hero’s journey rather than a “slice of life.” I want to be inspiring but I don’t want to ask you to settle for an inspiring tale based a true story, a piece of ordinary life made better by the addition of a few symbols and coincidences and acted by people who are more attractive than the real people to whom the story almost happened. In Tied to a Chair, Naomi Holbroke must leave the dispiriting marriage in which she has stayed for far too long, and undertake, like any hero, a journey across a great ocean. At the end of the journey she must overcome the evil monster that threatens her native city by passing a series of rigorous tests, such as confronting all the people she ran away from when she was young and making them do her bidding. Only once she has saved a great city is she free to pursue her dream.

I set the story in London, Cannes and New York, here and now instead of on an island in the past or future because now is when we need our heroes and here is where we need them. So you will see, when you see the movie, a story of a woman with virtues and faults, navigating through situations which—almost—could happen to anyone.

But why make it a comedy? Can there be such a thing as a comic epic? Should there be? One of the best thoughts on this subject is Horace Walpole’s (by his own admission oft-stated) “This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.” We need to feel, but it is getting harder and harder because we are so over stimulated by violence, shocking imagery, numbingly repetitive news broadcasts and interruptions that constantly shorten our attention span. The rich texture of feeling that is an available privilege of the human condition is passing beyond the reach of many people—and art and culture, which ought to nurture feeling, are instead often helping to numb us.

I think of the New Yorker cartoon in which two whales are swimming out to sea and one says to the other, “but can they save themselves?” If we humans are to save ourselves we will need to think and to enjoy thinking. The pleasures of thought need not be limited to the classroom or the bar stool; thoughtful movies can be fun, too, if they find the comedy in a life worth saving.

We need to feel in order to value what we have and we need to think in order to preserve it. And so I, and the gifted actors, photographers, designers, editors and musicians who give the piece its life, bring you a movie which is sad and funny, sensual and funny, frustrating and funny, absurd and funny, scary and funny (it’s not scary until late in the movie when we know what we have to lose), adventurous and funny and romantic and funny. And a heroine who can show you how to enjoy it.

—Michael Bergmann

 

 

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