(Please note: There are NO spoilers in the post.)
Many, many years ago, I went to see Death of a Salesman on stage while I was living in State College, Pennsylvania. I went with my boyfriend at the time. His sister’s boyfriend held the role as “Waiter”. We received two free, front row tickets.
About halfway through my disbelief no longer needed to be suspended. I was a part of that play. I no longer thought about my surroundings. I no longer had to forget I was sitting in an audience. I no longer had to forget I was in a theater at all. Instead, I found myself remembering. I guess that one might say my suspension of disbelief turned into a suspension of belief. Or something.
By the end of that performance I was sobbing. And I don’t mean tears were falling from my eyes. I mean, they were, but it was a whole lot more than that. I was sobbing. The kind of crying one sheds as a child if one is lucky enough. My face began to spasm. I was gasping for air like an uncontrollably tearful hiccup. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed with sadness. It was the most bizarre and crippling feeling. I can’t imagine experiencing sorrow like that until the day I am forced to say goodbye to a family member.
I cry a lot. I cry during T.V. shows. I cry during the reading of a news story. I cry during movies constantly. And for some reason (and this one I just can’t figure out) I cry sometimes when I’m a part of a large audience. But I haven’t ever cried as hard as that night I saw “Death of a Salesman”. I came close a couple of times. When I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close I came close to feeling paralyzed. (I probably would have had the author not found a way to couple all the sadness with the equivalent level of humor.) I came close to losing it when I read A Prayer for Owen Meaney. I came close during About Schmidt.
Last night, Toby Joe and I went and saw Brokeback Mountain. It was a sold out show. It was a Tuesday. It was 8 PM. The theater was packed with people. I came with snacks as I had just left the gym and hadn’t eaten. Little did I know, about 15 minutes into the movie, I’d totally forget about my snack and my hunger. And even in spite of the fact that the two men behind us felt compelled to make snide comments at the screen when there was any sign of affection between the male characters, I was totally engrossed for the entire 2 hours and 14 minutes of the movie. (Seriously, I haven’t ever been so disgusted by the way some men can act. And I don’t mean the the two men on screen. They were both wonderful. The men behind us were of the most disgusting breed. Someone should have asked them to leave or stay home.)
I’ll start by saying that I did have some issues with the film. But I think my criticism is personal and won’t be felt universally. There were a few liberties taken by the director I could have lived without. I won’t drone on and on about that, however. Especially since I hate ruining movies.
What I loved about Brokeback Mountain is the fact that so much of the dialogue takes place in the viewer’s own mind. As an audience member, you’re forced to participate in each and every character’s life. Throughout the movie, you’re putting thought between of every one of their sentences as they are as well. The relationship between Ennis Del Mar and his daughter requires a lot of participation. The interaction between Ennis Del Mar and Jack’s mother requires a certain (albeit presumptuous) amount of participation. I wish I had a better way of explaining this. I’ve never really been that good at explaining myself.
When I get to know a character, even if that person is fictional, I find that I am much more attached to the decisions they make. I’m not sure if I have the story to thank for this, the director, or both. I find I’m crediting the direction this time. The last half hour of Brokeback Mountain had me by the ribs. At the end of Brokeback Mountain, I was left partly paralyzed. I was grateful that they left the lights low in our sold out movie theater. In the theater’s darkness, I was given a moment to compose myself. I had been moved to tears.
What has also brought me to tears was that this film was actually banned from theaters in America yet something like Hostel becomes the highest grossing film (emphasis on the word “gross”). What does this say about our cultural? I find it hard to believe I live in a country that approves of dismemberment, death and torture yet a film featuring a love story between two men is banned from being seen. Shame on us all.
(Please note: This post is all over the place. I wrote it in two sitting and in under 10 minutes. I do apologize for its drivel and seemingly rocky nature.)