James Broughton's This Is It . . .


Art has always been thought of as an expression of the artist's perception. Every work of art is derived from a thought or feeling the artist has. Each medium of art delivers a different visual and feeling to the art. For instance, paintings come from what the artist envisions, where as photographs capture one instant. Sculptures pay homage to certain people and to some extent also represents art as a vision, as a painting does. In all three media of art, we see a glimpse of the artist's vision. However, avant garde films, or art films, give the artist more than just a glimpse to express. The narrative and visual within films allows the artist to be more creative. These aspects of film allow the artist to add more themes to the work being created. In James Broughton's This Is It, the narrative allows the artist to add another facet to a work already completed; in this instance, Broughton adds on to the biblical tale of The Creation. This Is It encompasses the Christian tale of The Creation, adding a prelude that contains Buddhist thought. James Broughton uses the film, This Is It , to combine the mythology of Christianity and philosophies of Buddhism to express the natural goodness each human possesses.

The biblical tale of The Creation is originally a Christian myth concerning the subject of original sin within humans. The tale revolves around Adam and Eve's deception of God. However, Adam and Eve are adults within the story. This Is It begins with the world already created, but God is dissatisfied and feels that his creation is incomplete. As a result, God states, "It needs something that looks more like me." Hence, a little boy is created and guided by God. God informs the boy to follow the red ball, which serves as an additional mentor for the boy. The film takes place at the beginning of time, this is clear due to the poetic narration at the beginning. Therefore, an association has been made with The Creation, because of the setting in which God is creating the Earth and all of its creatures. As a result of this association, it is easy to infer that the boy is a young Adam. In Christian mythology, before the moment of the great deception of God, Adam and Eve knew of no wrong; they only knew how to please God. It was not until Satan had entered the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve even thought of doing anything contrary to what God had approved. Therefore, This Is It harps upon the glorious sin free beginnings in which Christian mythology believes the world was created upon. In addition, the time in which the setting abides by implies that young Adam is incapable of doing harm or wrong.

Young Adam's mentor, the red ball, is a representation of the cyclical and natural thought professed within Buddhism. As God introduces his new creation to the ball, he states, "Listen, Son. Keep your eye on the ball. Why do you think I made the world round?" Therefore, God has placed the ball as an imitation of the Earth. This way, as the ball guides Adam, it cultures him to ways in which he cares for the other inhabitants of Earth as well as taking care of himself. Broughton demonstrates the ball's teachings as Adam is found caring for and cherishing the Earth's naturalities. As the boy follows the red ball, the ball speaks. The ball repeats "om" throughout the entire film. The activity of saying "om" is used within various forms of Buddhism as a meditation aid. As Adam starts to live and work on the Earth, the ball repeats the phrases, " This is it. There's nothing here, but now. And it's perfect as it is. There's nothing now, but this. There's no where to go, but here." These phrases are examples of Zen Buddhist thought; as Zen thought is characterized by being open and free. There is not any preoccupation with the future or the past, in Zen only the present is pondered. God and the red ball have a question and answer session concerning the present time. This question and answer session is characteristic of those in which Zen masters have with their students. As the film demonstrates the boy appreciating and indulging within the natural gifts of Earth, the ball continues with another poem. This poem starts with "om," and continues with, "I am it and so are you." This poem goes on to reveal that everything is it. The idea that everything is it is also a part of Zen philosophy. Broughton demonstrates human goodness as Adam acts with an appreciation for all things. This widespread appreciation for everything is one of the major concepts within Buddhism.

Through combining Christian mythology with Buddhist philosophy, Broughton has given a picture of the beginnings of a peaceful and good human being. The boy never destroys any of the Earth's inhabitants, nor does he waste anything; he only cherishes it and puts it to good use. Because this is a film about the beginnings of human beings, and in Christian mythology all humans are spawned from Adam and Eve, it is clear that this film demonstrates the philosophy that all humans are innately good. The incorporation of Buddhist philosophy adds to goodness, due to Buddhist mores regarding living in harmony with all things. Therefore, due to the meshing of these religions, Broughton signifies that in the beginning a human knows only to do no harm. In doing no wrong, humans are appreciative and thankful for the Earth that was given to them. Overall, This Is It demonstrates the natural good that each human was created with.

Using The Creation and Zen Buddhist philosophies, James Broughton's This Is It demonstrates the innate good within human beings. Through the medium of film, Broughton has added on to the timeless classic The Bible . However, Broughton's addition is his own perception and there may be many other perceptions to explain the same phenomena. In general, art allows each and every person to express their thoughts or explanations upon any matter that exists anywhere. Many artists choose to debate over certain matters, while others choose to beautify and allure their spectators. No matter how bizarre or abstract a piece of art is, there is always meaning within. The meaning found within any expression is never specific, continuously someone finds a new facet within the work. There are never right and wrong answers to interpretation. Every interpretation depends on each individual; each individual thinks and perceives differently.

--Eva Jones

James Broughton Work