A Love Letter to Cinema for My 9-Year-Old Autistic Son

A Love Letter to Cinema for My 9-Year-Old Autistic Son

Rockie shares with us a letter he writes for his son, Guillermo. In it, Rockie hopes to pass along something important, a love of cinema.   

Dear Guillermo, 

It hurts me to say this, but your journey through life is going to be a tough one. Your mother and I, thanks to our magical genes, gave you the burden of Autism. I would cut off my own arms to cure you, but that is pure fantasy. The world does not work that way. It is what it is, my boy. Communication with the outside world is going to always be difficult, and socially you may suffer. It is my job to protect and educate you, of course, but I can only do so much.

Unfortunately, your Autism keeps you so far away even when I am close enough to hold you. I am also constantly working to keep us afloat and even with extended family helping, looking after your recently injured Mother eats up too much of my time. Teaching you life lessons when I can barely get through to you makes me feel like a failure, which I know isn't true but it hurts that I cannot aid you further.

So, what's the damn point of this letter, you are probably wondering? To put it simply: Hope. Hope that someday we'll be able to understand one another better. Hope that one day I can share my true passion with you, movies. Most of my character, my sense of humor, comes from cinema, as well as, may he rest in peace, your crazy ass Grandfather. I love movies deeply and thought I could point you in the right direction. Then, I can sit back and let you fly on your own, you you can discover your own favorite directors, actor, writers etc. Movies have the power to teach, heal and inspire beyond your wildest dreams.

I have a list of films I wanted to share with you in fact. Films that could possibly enrich your life and help you appreciate the arts. As of this writing you are 9-years-old and you can't even finish an opening credit sequence. Saying we have a very long way to go is a gargantuan understatement. Frustrating for me, sure, but this isn't about me and it never will be. It's always going to be us against the world and who knows, maybe someday you'll be quite receptive of movies and all of this hustle will be all the sweeter. So, here they are, my little dude. A few films that I had in mind to help mold you into a stellar human being and/or a rabid film fan. 

The Dark Crystal

While it may be a tad too scary for you, I can assure you that this one-of-a-kind film is filled with wonder. A great many of films nowadays are done with CGI (computer generated imagery). It is important you see the genius in the rapidly fading art of puppeteering and animatronics. Focus on the creature design and mystical world Jim Henson built and understand there was more to him than Big Bird and Cookie Monster. Labyrinth would be follow-up to this, of course. 

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Your lesson in all things comedy. This film has every kind of comedy under the sun, the ultimate kitchen sink comedy. It is bursting at the seams with slapstick humor, dry humor, one-liners and more. Even if you yourself have no desire to be funny, it is important to learn comedy because life is too short and you need to laugh about everything. Hopefully in time you'll see that most things can be funny, even death. It's a Mad... may be long but it is a great place to start. Plus, we need the basics before we jump into something more advanced like Blazing Saddles

Brokeback Mountain

Fact: Gay people rule, plain and simple. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. They have touched and enriched all of the arts for centuries and will continue to do so, long after we are worm food. This powerful story is a reminder that if love is real, you should fight tooth and nail to protect it, no matter what sexual preference you prefer on this Earth. Love is love and no one can tell you how to express that love. The final scene in this film is the main reason why I want you to see this. It is a pain millions have felt and must be taken seriously.

Star Wars: Episodes IV-VI, All Recorded on One VHS Tape

This is the only way to watch this super fun saga and you have my permission to slap people who say otherwise. Enough has been written about Star Wars, so I won't even go there. Just know this: the Star Wars Universe is vast but inviting, and a great place to learn about the greatest sci-fi queen of them all. I'm hoping Princess Leia teaches that you'd be a fool to think any strong woman needs saving (this would lead us to Aliens, eventually). 

Speed Racer

Just to show you how vibrant and electric movies can be, I'd make you watch this. The Wachowski's are genius-level directors but most of their material, with the exception of Speed Racer, is not for kids. It's all great, but you need to be a bit older before we tackle all of it. Cool thing about this one is it is 100% a family film. By that I mean the entire Racer family, Mom, Dad, brother(s) and pet monkey, take on a corrupt system that is tainting the sport of motorcar racing they love so much. By the time we hit the final race you'll be screaming "Go Speed Go!", only I will be yelling louder than you. Family, son. You only get one, so hold it close and say "I love you" often.  

To Kill A Mockingbird

This is the story I pulled from to give your little brother his name. The character Atticus Finch is a white lawyer who defends a black man in an era of extreme prejudice. Risking his credibility and his family's safety, Atticus stands by this man, even when the odds are stacked against him. Atticus does this because he sees through the lies and racism directed toward this falsely accused man. He truly sees him as an equal. It takes a strong person to really stand up for what is right, especially when the world is screaming you are wrong at every turn. May you be courageous in the face of evil, my son, and know that racism is toxic and deserves no room in your heart. 


Guillermo del Toro's Entire Filmography

Speaking of names, this major talent is who we named you after. These films would have been shown to you during your middle school years. Guillermo del Toro is a master filmmaker who cares about creatures and monsters so much so that it helps you appreciate horror films on a whole other level. From ghost stories to kaiju attacks to fairy tales, del Toro puts enough thought and effort in each film that they each deserve multiple viewings just to catch every little detail. His audio commentaries will show you how much you missed in each outing as well, trust me. Smart enough to load his scenes with symbolism and deeper meanings than what is on the surface, his films are a joy to dissect and analyze. You are our tiny monster; too intense to contain and it is beyond perfect you have his name. 

Obviously this is just the tip of the iceberg, Guillermo. Cinema has too many avenues to explore and you will never watch absolutely everything. While I like what films I have chosen for you, this letter could have been about an entirely different batch of films, each of them just as important. Just understand that beautiful things are out there in this medium and they can give you a greater world view if absorbed properly. I'm optimistic we will get there someday. Even if we never do, I still love you more than this letter can express. 

Ever yours, Daddy.

P.S. Yes. You can go back to your beloved highly-detailed maps you love to draw so much. Thanks for reading this, son. I know it was hell for you. 

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