Wednesday, September 10, 2014

you tell me a story and you think you know what it means

Ci lasceremo alla stagion de fior.
(We'll part when it's the season of flowers again.)

Vorrei che eterno durasse il verno!
(I wish winter would be everlasting.)

About a year ago, the real Cammareri Bakery, featured briefly in Moonstruck, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This makes news.

Back in January of this year, a tree "that made a star-making appearance" in the film [really, it's only briefly seen and never featured], was chopped down. And that made news.

The smallest things can seem important if the timing is right. And, the little things in a story (or a movie) we like can feel important when lost. Like a connection to the story is gone. And, the feelings we may have felt watching (or reading) the story unfolding are not far behind in being lost. We see a romantic movie like Moonstruck--

(Though, I must say that the damn-the-future romanticism on display in Moonstruck is not really my idea of romance. Romance, to me, is not momentary passion but something bigger, something slower, something longer. It's interesting that Moonstruck wraps itself around La Boheme because that story embraces something more like what I call romance. Sure, Mimi and Rodolfo meet and fall in love in the matter of minutes, one scene.

But, because it's a nice formal opera, their passion plays out not in physicality like Ronny throwing the table out of the way and carrying Loretta to his bed, but rather in their words, in something deeper than the brief time given over to presenting it to us. I just watched a production of La Boheme on the computer and it's remarkable to me how readily one can get sucked into a story like that, or like Moonstruck. We take love as timeless and instantaneous and all powerful when we should know damn well from reality that nothing is all that.)

--and we connect with it, we want some of what we see on screen, the all-consuming passion... and we want it. Most any movie we watch, we watch because, on some level, it's escapist. The movies wrap up all the complicated ideas in life, things philosophers and non-philosophers alike have been contemplating since the dawn of civilization (probably before that, actually), into neat self-contained packages. Ronny's taking of Loretta to his bed and her surrender--taken out of context, that scene has nothing to do with love, nothing to do with romance. It's a scene about sex. But, Loretta has been with no one but Johnny since her husband died 7 years ago and Ronny has been similarly alone since his fiancé left him. It's understandable that sexual urges might overtake them. And, sex and love and romance and passion--these things all get wrapped together, twisted up into one overarching idea that in reality can be just as painful as pleasureful, just as life-ruining as life-affirming.

In a movie like Moonstruck, that twisted-together ideal can end up being nothing but good... which is weird considering it is that same twisted thing that drives Cosmo to cheat on his wife, Professor Perry to go out with his students night after night, Loretta to go to bed with Ronny and Johnny to propose marriage; well, that last one involves a bit of pathetic desperation as well. But, maybe all of love and sex and passion and romance involves pathetic desperation. Rose theorizes that men chase women because they fear death, and it makes sense that anyone--not just men--would give in to this twisted mess of emotions and primal urges to feel alive. A life alone, a life monotonous--this is the death of the soul. Motionlessness=death. It's as simple as that.

You don't even have to believe it to be literally true on any level at all, because you feel it.

And, it doesn't have to be that twisted beast described above (which shall be simply labeled romance) that gives your life motion. One of its parts--passion--can be pointed in many a direction, not all toward another person. Ronny says he loves two things--Loretta and opera--and that equality in the language is one of the greatest truths in Moonstruck. In some languages, you couldn't use the same word to love both of those things, but in our heads, strong feelings are strong feelings. Some are constructive, some are destructive, some our positive, some are negative, but they can all be strong, can all be powerful enough to send us off the rails of our boring lives to pursue something amazing. Whatever that thing may be.

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