Time is a big part of the whole 2269 project. There’s the 250 year wait, the growing old and inevitable demise. It’s about legacy, ancestors and change. The now, the after and the future.
If 2269 was a movie, Richard Linklater would be its director.
Going back to his earliest work, he has explored the notion of time and its passing, and the illusions of its stillness amongst purposelessness. The one day, the nine-year gaps, the stories without traditional narrative curves and shapes, these allow for the contemplative and concentrated, amongst awkward notions of mortality and growth, real and imagined.
Boyhood, arguably his tour-de-force – although this writer loves School of Rock with a deep and abiding passion – is fascinating in any number of ways.
It’s twelve-year shooting schedule allows us to see aging and transformation on an organic level that is difficult to reproduce convincingly. The narrative is subtly influenced by changes in the wider world between shoots. This brings a verisimilitude – we more readily allow ourselves to believe what we are seeing is true, because on some level, it is.
The persistence and the patience required to stagger a production in this way is astounding. That mainstream cinema allowed him to make a movie like that is equally astonishing. This is, after all, an industry so obsessed with short-termism that it would reboot, reiterate and abandon a property entirely in the time it took Linklater to finish this one project.
Yet, the kicker here is that 12 years is nothing. To the boy, it’s a lifetime. To the adults, it’s just another phase, which, if you weren’t paying attention, went by in the blink of an eye.
Even his most traditional movies are one layer deeper than they seem. School of Rock has a meta-narrative – those children would grow, quickly and irresistibly, until they were adults, before we were ready. I don’t believe that he hadn’t felt the power of that.
Right now, he’s working on a film version of Merrily We Roll Along, due to be completed in 2039, with the twenty-year story to be told in reverse. Obviously.
Richard Linklater gets it. And we’re pretty certain he’ll get 2269 too. Enjoy the poster, Richard.
At some point, you’re no longer growing up, you’re aging. But no one can pinpoint that moment exactly.