Thoughts on HER

The first time I watched Her, I thought it was one of the most beautifully crafted, meaningful and relevant movies I’d ever seen.  It had everything that I loved in a movie: perfect cinematography, subtle and moving character development, and an original concept. I watched for the characters, and was captivated by their interactions, the emotions that flurried across their faces or in their voices, and contemplated how mankind is going to inevitably change as the roots of technology grow deeper and deeper into our lives and society.

I read the commentary on Her before our class showing, and was amazed by how much I had missed when I watched for the first time.  I had focused on the characters and empathizing with their experiences, but didn’t think too much about the context in which these characters lived. I could sense that there was a feeling of cleanliness, lightness and overall utopia, but couldn’t exactly put my finger on what was giving me this feeling. Our reading opened my eyes to the shift in the role technology played in this future. I love that the creators thought so deeply about how to portray a world in which people have realized that technology should just be a part of daily life, weaved into the seams and framing the world in which humans want to live and experience their lives.  It’s strange to consider a world like this because I’ve only ever lived in a world where technology was flashy and center stage, and I question society’s ability to come to this realization. This world, that city had close to no screens until necessary, but with our world having already developed that way, can we even go backwards?

One thing that struck me, watching it a second time, was what it means to be intimate. The movie opens with Theodore saying the most touching words about someone that end up being a “hand written card” for a complete stranger. I hadn’t noticed this the first time around, but why would they open with this scene? I think it was meant to show the lack of intimacy that exists in the world, and the willingness that people have to believe in any intimacy that they can get. Later, Theodore gets OS1 and meets Samantha. What’s interesting here is how quickly they went from OS to friends, then to feelings. I wonder if it’s because, in this world and in our current world, everyone sees each other at a distance. Samantha was inserted into the center of Theodore’s life. She read his emails, she consoled him about the problems no one else could see, she helped him with things no one else would understand. She was also there for him 24/7, to listen and talk to him. She essentially came to share Theodore’s life, take some burden away and lift him up whenever he needed it. Granted, I think that Theodore was also incredibly lonely and welcomed this intimacy, which is probably why they “fell in love” unlike other users who hated their OSs.

But his ex-wife has a point. Maybe Samantha was so much easier to love because she wasn’t real. She had no past, no baggage and no judgements to understand. She had an “excitement for life” because she had never been alive. Her purpose was to be there for Theodore, whereas real people are always redefining their purposes and all struggling through life. Working through these changes and struggles is the biggest challenge in marriage. Even looking at Amy and James’ marriage, it lacked understanding and picked at old wounds to the point of divorce over a seemingly small argument. The way I see it, as people grow older, they become more and more complicated because of their past experiences, influenced deeply by how they’ve learned to survive life. Being married to someone means accepting and loving them for all those things, and promising to work through the future together. Perhaps in this world, the lack of true intimacy has diminished the mentality of togetherness, and has left a you vs. me, “it’s hopeless” mentality. And when Theodore found someone who was programmed to be on his team and to accept him for him, he found true intimacy.

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