A 12 Year Journey Captured on Film
By Noah Dauncey
Childhood feels like a “blink and you miss it” situation. Gone too soon are the days of building forts out of blankets and pillows or having a face covered in peanut butter and jelly. We hold on to what we can, but a lot is lost to time, never to be seen again. Director Richard Linklater didn’t want to lose these memories, so he filmed them.
Loyal fans of the film column may recognize Linklater from a past article, but if his name doesn’t ring a bell, I highly suggest you go check out “Football and Grass” on The Collegian website (I hear it’s a good one, but I’m probably biased). I reference his name once more because his movie “Boyhood” (2014) suits the theme of transition perfectly. This guy just knows how to make good movies.
“Boyhood” takes us along for the ride as we watch a boy named Mason grow up before our eyes. The film starts when he is six years old and goes through many of life’s rites of passage, such as being a child of divorce, trying beer for the first time, and otherwise discovering himself until going off to college at the age of 18.
What makes this film so special is how the footage was gathered: no other children were cast to play Mason at different ages. Instead, the part was played by the same no-name kid (Ellar Coltrane) for 12 years, filming him at multiple stages in his life. When I say we watch Mason grow up before our eyes, I mean it in the literal sense.
Besides having Mason to guide us from 2002 to 2013, the supporting cast are stellar, adding many layers of depth and influence to Mason’s development. Patricia Arquette ended up winning the Oscar for best supporting actress as Mason’s single mother, and Ethan Hawke gave one of the best performances of his career playing Mason’s divorced dad.
Mason is a kid doing kid things, which is surprisingly engaging to watch. A friend of his smuggles a Sears catalog and they spend the afternoon looking at bra models. He is forced to get a buzz cut against his will. There’s even a shot of Mason putting mustard on a pretzel at a basketball game that somehow still adds to the film! These scenes work together to show how Mason is shaping into the person he wants to be, or better yet, discovering who he wants to be.
Some of us at Walla Walla University are getting ready to transition into a new part of life as we graduate this June. This is not the first transition in our life. We should be used to it by now, but it’s still just… scary. “Boyhood” is an ode to these transitions in life, and it shows us that it’s OK to not have everything figured out. The people around us in our life help us through it along the way.