Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry and Happy Days to the Solitary Souls of Cinema

Holiday films are supposed to make us feel better. They usually end with the main characters eventually basking in the warmth of friends and family and reminding us that this is what it is all about. But what kind of Christmas would the solitary souls of cinema enjoy?

Ethan Edwards ("The Searchers")

What kind of holiday would Ethan enjoy? I seriously doubt he'd really enjoy an old fashioned rum punch with his family, even after Debbie returned home. After a morning of scorching a Comanche village or two, he might top the day off with a few swigs of Chain Lighting (a furniture varnish flavored whiskey favored in western saloons) and a meditative stare into Monument Valley.

Jay Gatsby ("The Great Gatsby")

Since Gatsby is destined not to spend his holidays with Daisy, he might throw a raucous party at his elegant/vulgar estate. All of his "friends" would be there, but in his soul he alone because she - Daisy - his true love -  is not there. His loneliness is a prison among a crowd. He stares at the green light atop his tree.

Catherine Sloper ("The Heiress")

Oh, pity the poor lonely spinster! But don't pity Catherine. She found out that Morris was a gold digger before it was too late, her hateful father is dead as a door nail and she has Daddy's fortune. No, once she finishes her tapestry she is off to Paris to kick up her heels. But Catherine will always keep her own council and walk her own solitary path, even if she takes a mate. I predict she will invent the pre-nup.

The Tramp ("The Circus")

The Tramp has always been a solitary soul. Yes, he ended  "The Kid" with a warm welcome from mother and son, and he did whoop it up (in his imagination) on New Year's Eve with those dance hall girls from "The Gold Rush," but "The Circus" finds him alone again. Christmas is a melancholy time for the little fellow, a time of sentimentality. But, the Tramp is an observer, never really a participant. His heart is great, but he is, in the end, meant to be alone, free to move on, free to find more beauty in this mixed up world.

Whether you are alone or in a crowd, make sure you taste the eggnog and look for the beauty in life. And for goodness sake, put some rum in it!