our summer goal (besides SLEEP ALL WE CAN) is to make millie cry. with a movie...
if our goal was to make her cry without a movie, we would just cut her hair. that always makes her cry.
or cut her clothing budget. tears tears tears...
but she has NEVER cried in a movie.
and still hasn’t. even though we have been HARD at work on this mission.
and i would like to recommend the two movies to you. easily available on netflix. or ask for them at your local movie rental store. they are both family friendly (i believe there is one curse word in the “taking chance” one). but they are both emotional and based on true stories.
“taking chance” will make you so proud of our marines and the honor and respect that they show to every fallen marine. beautiful movie. very well made and well acted. and well, just wonderful.
“hachi” will make you run out and adopt a pet immediately after you see the movie. unless your husband’s name is adam and he didn’t watch the movie with you and he won’t let you run out and adopt a pet.
and then i also made her watch my favorite movie ever... based on my favorite play ever....
wit. starring emma thompson. sigh. i love this movie. maybe because i love john donne’s poetry also.
and maybe because it was written by a kindergarten teacher from atlanta, ga.
and maybe because it also features a reading from the book “the runaway bunny”.
i have recommended this movie to lots of people and wither people look at me like i am crazy for suggesting they watch a movie where a woman goes through chemotherapy and dies at the end or they watch it and say “that was okay”. no one has ever loved it quite the way that i love it. sigh.
so since you have never seen it or most likely won’t see it, i walk you through one of my favorite scenes... where vivian relives a conference with her graduate professor, the brilliant e.m. ashford and prof. ashford instructs her on the proper punctuation for the last line of the poem, death be not proud...
E.M. Ashford: Do you think that the punctuation of the last line of this sonnet is merely an insignificant detail? The sonnet begins with a valiant struggle with Death calling on all the forces of intellect and drama to vanquish the enemy. But it is ultimately about overcoming the seemingly insuperable barriers separating life death and eternal life. In the edition you choose, this profoundly simple meaning is sacrificed to hysterical punctuation.
And Death, Capital D, shall be no more, semi-colon. Death, Capital D comma, thou shalt die, exclamation mark!
If you go in for this sort of thing I suggest you take up Shakespeare.
Gardner's edition of the Holy Sonnets returns to the Westmoreland manuscript of 1610, not for sentimental reasons I assure you, but because Helen Gardner is a scholar.
It reads, "And death shall be no more" comma "death, thou shalt die." Nothing but a breath, a comma separates life from life everlasting.
Very simple, really. With the original punctuation restored Death is no longer something to act out on a stage with exclamation marks. It is a comma. A pause.
In this way, the uncompromising way one learns something from the poem, wouldn't you say? Life, death, soul, God, past present. Not insuperable barriers. Not semi-colons. Just a comma.
which is ironic (dare we say “WITty” because they are actually acting out death on a stage with exclamation marks... “a valiant struggle with Death calling on all the forces of intellect and drama to vanquish the enemy”. but the ending of the play has us seeing it more as the ending of that speech... “life, death, soul, God, past, present. not insuperable barriers. not semi-colons. just a comma.” it is brilliant. (are you running out to get this movie yet?)
the stage version of the play is actually named “W;T”, (a simi-colon as the “i”) referring the the semi-colon in the last line of the poem. since they are acting this out on the stage a bit more semi-colon than comma.
my other favorite scene involves this same professor coming to visit vivian in the hospital and it is one of the most beautiful moments of humanity that i have ever seen on the stage or in a movie.
i cannot imagine the mind that wrote both of those scenes. a mind that can compare a john donne poem to treating cancer. and then throw in the runaway bunny and it make perfect sense.
and that makes me believe in God. a God who is an Author. a Creator. a StageCrafter. a Poet. a Dramatist.
a God of Wit... it the definition that is presented by the play’s title ... vivian was fascinated by “wit”, a reference to the 17th century fascination with literary conceit, paradox and wordplay... during the renaissance, the term 'wit' referred to intelligence or wisdom. as applied to the metaphysical poets, it has the connotation of intellectual and verbal ingenuity ... this kind of wit always involves surprise, a desire to startle readers, to make them look at things in a new, unconventional way.
isn’t that just like God? the God of Wit...
the one thing that bothered me about the play was that donne’s most famous work was not in there... for whom the bell tolls. which would be a PERFECT description of this play. because vivian thinks of herself as an island. she is all alone. and she likes it that way... in the beginning. but by the end when the bell tolls, every character has been touched by her life. the bell tolls for all. all are diminished by her passing. now why wasn’t that poem mentioned in the movie... then as i was watching it with millie and maxx, it dawned on me that vivian says she is studying “devotions upon emergent occasions”. and so i googled that to see what she was working in... and lo and behold that is a fancy name for that poem that i so wanted to be in there.
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
"No man is an island,
entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,
as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friend's
or of thine own were.
Any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee..."
see how brilliant. and subtle. that is why i am not brilliant. i am not subtle.
Death Be Not Proud
by John Donne
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and souls delivery.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better then thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more. death, thou shalt die.