“People who keep stiff upper lips find that it’s damn hard to smile.”
– Judith Guest, Ordinary People
It was 1965. I was eight-years-old. I lived in a small town within a five minute walk of the Criterion movie theatre. My sister and I went to the Saturday matinee every week. This time was different. My father came with us to see The Sound of Music. When the movie started I sat transfixed, not on the film but on my father’s lit up eyes and the smile on his face. While Maria sang the theme song on the snow-capped mountainside I heard the sound of possibility. There was a bigger world out there, out beyond the sounds of my suburban town, beyond the sounds of discontent, beyond the sounds of violence and wars, beyond my father’s drinking and my mother’s overwhelm. The hills were alive with the sound of music and one day I’d find those hills.
It was 1980. I was twenty-three-years old. Newly moved to Vermont seeking who knows what I met Ed who took me to see Ordinary People, a movie about a family torn apart by the accidental death of the older, favored teenage son, Buck. Buck had let go of the overturned boat in a storm. Conrad held on. That was the one thing he did wrong. He held on. His brother didn’t. My sister Kathy let go by staying with an abusive man. A decision that cost her her life. I held on. Kathy didn’t. Too close to my own story, images of The Past I tried so hard to keep down came up on the drive home, the beginning of the long journey to find forgiveness and healing.
It was 1990. I was thirty-two-years-old. One year married to Cradoc, back from a year of travel in Alaska and Europe, we went to see Cinema Paradiso, about a famous film director Salvatore Di Vita returns to his home village in Sicily after thirty years. Questioning my conflicting desires of wanderlust and wanting to find home, I cried through much of the movie. It’s still my all-time favorite movie. Watch it in Italian with sub-titles, not dubbed.
A few other favorites:
A Room With a View
Out of Africa
To Kill a Mockingbird