Read an article this morning in the Hollywood Reporter on the suicide of director Malik Bendjelloul (Oscar winner for the documentary Searching for Sugarman). I found Searching for Sugarman inspiring as a film (simple footage incredibly edited and animated to create a compelling story that explored art and commerce and popular culture through the story of musician Sixto Rodriguez) and was shocked to learn of the death of it’s young director. The article, written by Scott Johnson, opens with a very cinematic description of the scene of his death:
In the late afternoon on May 13, a young man with a mop of soft brown hair and a delicate frame stood on the platform of the Solna Centrum metro stop in Stockholm, Sweden, waiting for the Blue Line. It was rush hour, and the station, one of the deepest in Stockholm’s rail system, was filling up with commuters leaving the city. At the bottom of a long escalator, cavelike tunnel walls had been painted with elaborate pastoral scenes from the 1970s: lush green hillsides studded with fir trees and a giant yellow moon rising against a vast, dark red sky. Vignettes of Swedish life were overlaid against this Nordic backdrop — chain-saw-wielding loggers presiding over a recent clear-cut, a twin-engine prop plane taking flight, and a solitary violinist standing in a field pondering the city’s encroachment. At one end of the platform was a sign. “Stop!” it warned. “Unauthorized people prohibited on the tracks.”
The article raises many questions – why would someone who had attained such success fall into such a deep depression so quickly? what are the downfalls of the creative process? You work on something for years and successfully complete it – but then what? Perhaps the process is as important as the result in creative endeavors? What are the chemical manifestations of depression and creativity and how can we make sense of them? I don’t know that there are clear answers to any of these questions, although the article attempts to provide some.
– Jennifer Dean