Recently there was a poster on facebook that basically said, “If you are depressed—you’re living in the past; if you are anxious—you’re living in the future; if you are at peace, you’re living in the present.” It’s interesting that all three are tied to memories and how we may process them.
Hugo’s father, in the movie Hugo, lives in the present. Life is not easy or simple. He is raising his son alone, working two demanding jobs, has virtually no extra time to spare and yet every moment is filled with quality. He is dedicated to his son and his craft and his pleasure in both exude love and peace.
His brother also dedicates himself to the quality of his craft, showing considerable diligence, while at the same time drowning his life in alcohol. There is a clue that at one point these two brothers worked together, but no explanation of the separation. All we see is two, almost opposite, approaches to life after a season of grief.
George Melies has buried his dreams and spent over a decade trying not to remember. Yet when the past begins to crack open into the present, he reacts with anxiety, fear and anger. He fights the possibility of a future that might flood him with despair again.
Hugo teeters between all three as he processes his loss. He clings to hope by spending each day faithful to the legacy of craft given by his father, and uncle. He dreams of a future to push back the emotional pain, but hovers on anxiety as every step closer also brings the threat of more loss. Every day he must make the choice to follow peace in the present.
What past grief or potential future grief is your character facing? Write out a sketch of his personality change for each version: anxious, depressed or at peace. What circumstances fuel that outcome?