Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Living with Passion

This week I watched two movies that I expected to be westerns. One was. One was not. Both though dealt with the same core theme-- even though when I had finished them, I didn't immediately see how they related to each other.

An Unfinished Life is the story of a bitter old rancher (Robert Redford) who has lost his son to a tragic accident. He blames his daughter-in-law (Jennifer Lopez) and they have been estranged for many years until she is forced to reconnect with him to protect her and the granddaughter he never knew he had. Morgan Freeman plays a ranch hand who is also Redford's best friend and has been mauled by a bear. I like the movie; and although it plays out pretty predictably, that's not always a bad thing. The interaction between the two old men, with many years of friendship between them, is wonderful and humorous. The scenery is beautiful. The acting first rate. Redford looks great as a strong old man. Freeman is always good, and Lopez is believable as a woman wrapped in guilt-- although her dialogue could have been improved to bring more understanding of her character.

Brokeback Mountain is the love story of two men (Ennis played by Heath Ledger and Jack by Jake Gyllenhaal) who meet when they are young, have a passion for each other that Ennis cannot live with but he can dabble in, and let it spoil everything else he could have had in his life. Jack would step out and live with it but it's not just his choice alone. The film is intense, very beautifully filmed and accurate to the country and times. The short story it comes from is in the book Close Range by Annie Proulx, and it improves the enjoyment in the film to have read it. I would not call it a western even though the two men are cowboys and it's set in the west.

In both films, passion is allegorically shown through nature-- in the first a grizzly, the same one that mauled Freeman's character; and in the latter, fast moving rivers. I read one critic who found fault with the fast moving water that he took to be suggesting homosexual love was superior to heterosexual which was represented by flat boring land. I believe that critic missed the point. The point is passion is that river with rapids; and yes, it's more threatening, as shown also by the bear, because it represents risk. In the case of Unfinished, the old man had for a time drowned his passion, which was at that time all about anger, in liquor. When he saw the damage that was doing, he just was left with the bitterness until he opened up again to full feeling and risk.

I recommend both very strongly. I know a lot won't see Brokeback because men have sex in it, they kiss each other like lovers, which they are. The sex didn't bother me anymore than watching heterosexual couples. I am not a fan of graphic sexual content in any film. To me, it's too much like being a voyeur. There are better ways to show passion between lovers; but in this movie, it was probably needed to show the nature of the men's relationship and not shown more than required nor offensively (to me) at all. Any nudity was kept to non-sexual moments. Many men I know seem to be scared of seeing it. The same guys could watch two women kiss but heaven forbid (and of course some believe that literally) that two men should. Hey guys, it's not catching.

If one watches these films with an open mind, both can help someone realize their own passion more fully. Both films illustrate the risks of living with passion but they also show the cost of denying it. I believe passion is not about romantic love or even some mighty cause. It's about being aware of and following the inner voice, about fully living, being true to who you are whether it's popular or not, taking the risk, and sometimes putting pain aside to fully move on with your life-- even knowing you might be hurt again. It is fast moving water and a wild bear on a ridge.


Sandy said...

I watched both of those movies in the past week as well and could not have summed them up any better than what you have. The only thing I would add would be close to the bottom and would be, to have the courage to follow through with your dreams but also the common sense that must come along with it, ie: knowing the dangers or risks that you would take if you did follow out your dream.

Mary Lou said...

I know what you mean, I have not seen Broke...because I am waiting for it to come to Oak Harbor, which will be about 3010 AD! (small town) but Bob wont go. I think He is afraid that it might wake up some repressed feelings or something. He refuses to watch anything with homosexuals in it. Not even TO WONG FOO...which is a GREAT movie!

I saw the very very end of Unfinished, and never can catch it when it is on!

I will have to make it a point to watch them both.

(Ya need to pop over to Fran's place and congratulate her on another grandbaby!!)

I sure am glad you came back to blogging. You are so refreshing!!

Rexroth's Daughter said...

I have not seen either of these two movies. We don't get out to the video store much, so things just pass us by. I like what you have to say, though, about passion and risk. I also completely agree with you about on-screen nudity. I must say it is mostly unnecessary to be so graphic. My imagination provides amply enough.

Moncrief Speaks said...

Nice post.

Winston said...

Great critique of the films, neither of which I have seen yet. But I will see both. I have no fear or hesitation about seeing Brokeback. I am not gay, nor am I threatened by the choice of others.

I do not disagree with your concluding remarks about passion being "fast moving water and a wild bear on a ridge." However, there is a dimension you may be missing: fast moving water is always shallow. Passion can also come in other flavors, like the depth of still waters in a glassy mountain lake, or the rythmic pounding of waves at the edge of the ocean's container. Not as exciting or evocative, perhaps, but just as passionate...

Rain said...

Interesting additional thoughts and thank you all for commenting. I always enjoy seeing what others might add or disagree with what I have said.

It's true about different levels of passion, winston, but I guess what i was thinking is it's like the river that takes you with it and then you follow where it goes which could be as you said to deep still waters, to many things.

Many of us deny our passion because it's not practical. I know you understand I don't equate sexual with passion. Passion is bigger than that. And as Sandy said, it should be realistic or it can become obsession and ruin a person's life. A passion could be to live a contemplative life; but whatever it is, to deny it is what leaves a person having denied a part of themselves.

And thank you, Mary Lou, I am glad I am writing it also and especially when others add to it or say they enjoyed it.