…if you don't stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it."
As a teacher, I used films to teach my students important life concepts. Why did it never occur to me that such wisdom could come from the mouth of Ferris Bueller?
Over at The Sydney Morning Herald (with a tip of the hat to Tech_Space) is a thorough analysis of what makes Ferris Bueller's Day Off more than just another teen movie, and its hero a model for daily living: "Ferris Bueller pretty much embodies everything I believe a man should be: a little dangerous, immensely charming, funny, an optimist, adventurous, challenging, a bit dodgy, curious, subversive, latitudinarian and a dab hand with the sheilas… Everything you need to know about life is contained in the 102 minute running time of this '80s classic." And not routine, day-to-day life, but the vibrant energy with which so few of us imbue our waking moments.
But it wasn't always that way. Ferris Bueller's Day Off embodies the rebellious, free-thinking spirit that so many of us slowly let die as we assimilate into adults. Ferris opens the film by observing, "It is a beautiful day in Chicago," and seeing the opportunity therein. We the audience empathize with him, but only because in reality, we represent the tide he is swimming against: those who too often go through the motions and let each day slip by, just to bring another paycheck. What happens to us? If life is a carousel, whyever did we choose to get off? Our lives are not Ferris Bueller's, and we are rarely as brave as Cameron Frye. Why do we let reality define us, instead of vice versa? Is there an age at which we turn off our imaginations and stop struggling?
I should've shown this film to my 11th-grade students and let it infuse them with ideas with which to run amuck in the other teachers' classrooms. It's too late for me to do them this service — but while you read Sydney's lengthy blog post, which is worth every second, perhaps I can go watch the film myself, for the first time in over a decade, and be depressed at what I've lost… or inspired at what I might regain.