Thursday, March 31, 2011

Staying Power

On Jerry Coyne's recommendation, I rented "Never Let Me Go" and watched it last weekend. Jerry had written of this movie, "You’ll either love it or think it’s meh." My initial reaction tended towards "meh"; I thought the film was well acted and beautifully shot, but it didn't have much emotional impact on me at the time. In the days since I watched it, though, scenes have been replaying themselves in my head, a sure sign that it worked its way into my consciousness even though I wasn't giving it my undivided attention. (That happens a lot when I watch movies at home—too many distractions.) The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro (who also wrote "Remains of the Day"), and now I want to read the book to more fully explore ideas that were only briefly touched on in the film.

Some words and images hit you immediately: Racial or sexual epithets directed at you, or someone you love. Photos of a coed screaming as she crouches over the body of a fallen student, a man in a white shirt blocking the progress of a line of tanks, a Y-shaped trail of smoke and debris from an exploding space shuttle. Other inputs seem to need a while to sink in: Seemingly offhand remarks that don't trouble you until late at night in the quiet darkness, when your mind is mulling over the day's events. Images that were viewed only briefly but intrude on your thoughts hours or days later, demanding your attention. You can't escape them; you will deal with them, or they'll keep dealing with you.

As I watched "Never Let Me Go" a second time this evening, two lines from the school song that the students sing at the beginning of the movie—"When we are scattered afar and asunder, parted are those who are singing today"—took on an entirely new meaning. Now I understand that this film will be with me for a long, long time.

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