So I watched this movie, Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart, initially because I am drawn to animation, probably more than anything else in film, especially gothic, sophisticated animation. One that replicates reality in certain ways but can still fashion an overall look of strange and unusual modern life. This creates an interesting balance of being relatable but doesn't root you too much in reality. For me, this movie was real where it counts. (Also, it's a musical which I am admittedly a sucker for).
The plot has many moving parts, but I guess what I want to discuss most is the story at the front lines. Jack is born on the coldest day of the year. His mother collapses at the front door of a supposed witch who delivers Jack and realizes his heart is frozen solid and unable to pulse. She performs meticulous surgery to remove the frozen heart and construct one out of a heart-sized cuckoo clock, where the cogs, wheels and hands work together to sustain him. It sits on the outside of his chest and needs to be turned with a key.
I've written a story at the end of my book that explains my medical history, but what I want to say about control of the heart is vast. But what I want to do here is describe my own experience of what that feels like, to have someone literally manipulate your heart. It's when you go for a cardiologist visit and they hook you up to a computer and with a press of a button they can speed up your heart to make sure your device is working. And you sit there scared. It's interesting to know your heart is not your own.
But if you haven't read anything, I've got a defibrillator over my heart which will monitor how fast my heart beats. It's a little box you can see through my chest and I feel it all the time. When it gets too fast, it will shock me to slow everything down. Kind of feels like getting kicked in the chest by a horse. Taking you out of the world for a minute, but saves your life. So I deal with it. I cannot control when it happens, but I do various things to keep my heart from racing the best I can. Sometimes it's not enough.
So back to Jack, the witch that saves him ends up raising him. I love that. Witches save, I'm sayin..
The issues with Jack's fragility now hover over his every move. He isn't let out of the house for many years and when it looks like he may soon meet the outside world, we learn things that will inevitably incapacitate and kill him. One of those things is love. He's not allowed to fall in love because his heart can't take the emotion. It's bullshit, but it's something I can relate to.
I think this type of condition is a tricky one because it's not a visible disability. And in so many ways I am nowhere in a position to talk about hardships that come in forms of more physical disabilities that are impossible to hide. All I can say is it affects me mentally more than anything. The head and the heart are so directly linked that you can worry about things you never would have before. I think that's something I'm forever working against because I am very much in my right mind. But I've got such a vital organ that's so unpredictable, it's hard to trust other things when my body can betray me so easily. So sometimes things like potential love or even "just super into someone feelings" are scary because I think everyone deserves that. And it's so elusive that I'm not sure why people don't try harder. I'm guilty of that and all of it is fear, the type of fear that holds you back. There is a moment when Jack meets this girl who just shocks his heart so hard and causes him to collapse. His chest is literally smoking. I think I know what that feels like.
Image via blogs.indiewire.com